Legislative leaders meet on state budget impasse | TheUnion.com

Legislative leaders meet on state budget impasse

High-level meetings took place in Sacramento Thursday in an effort to reach a compromise on California’s state budget, but a new budget still could be weeks away, a lawmaker said.

“The Big 5 did meet today,” said Assemblyman Dan Logue, R-Linda, referring to the Senate and Assembly majority and minority leaders and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. “They are negotiating.”

The legislative session fizzled out Tuesday without lawmakers agreeing on a budget, and no special session to pass one has been announced.

“The Legislature has done this year after year,” Schwarzenegger said this week. “I’ve heard it for seven years. And I said, ‘OK, that’s the end. Now we’re going to do the reforms that need to be done, which will be absolutely crucial for the future of this state.”

Projected state expenses for the fiscal year are an estimated $19.1 billion greater than projected revenue. Democrats and Republicans disagree on how to close that gap.

“There’s $15 billion we agree on,” Logue said. But to close the remaining $4 billion-plus shortfall, “the Democrats are wanting to raise taxes, and the Republicans and the governor are refusing to do that.”

The Big 5 could bring out a proposal and call a special session for an up-or-down vote, said Bill Bird, spokesman for Sen. Sam Aanestad, R-Grass Valley.

“There’s a chance that, in a week or two, we’ll be in Sacramento over a proposal,” Logue said.

His message to those waiting for state payments stalled by the budget impasse:

“Call Democratic legislators and demand they call a session and demand they solve the budget,” Logue said.

Neither Logue, nor Aanestad, nor their staff has been paid since July 1, due to the lack of a budget.

“We get reimbursed, but (legislators) should be cut off without reimbursement” if they fail to pass a budget on time, Logue added.

To contact City Editor Trina Kleist, e-mail tkleist@theunion.com or call (530) 477-4230.

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