Sac Bee Capitol Alert | posted by Shane Goldmacher
August 30, 2008 - 5:46 PM -- Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata announced Saturday that the Senate will convene every day - including weekends -- until lawmakers pass a state budget, which is now 61 days overdue.
"Under the emergency circumstance, for us to be anywhere but here, on the floor, prepared to take up a bill would be wrongheaded, and we won't do it," Perata said.
The Oakland Democrat put a Democratic-backed budget up for a vote of the full Senate for the first time on Friday. Perata said he was "disappointed" that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger had not done more to corral support for the package from lawmakers from his own party.
"He has not been willing to talk to any of my Republican colleagues, apparently," Perata said.
The Friday budget vote failed with no GOP support. At least two Republicans in the Senate must support a spending plan for it to pass with the necessary two-thirds supermajority.
The rare Saturday legislative session brought other new developments in the budget impasse, though little progress.
Legislative Republicans unveiled the broad outline of a budget plan for the first time, one they say would balance the budget without new taxes.
Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association President Jon Coupal quickly issued a statement saying the plan "will force the Legislature to stop their reckless overspending once and for all."
But Schwarzenegger was more critical, calling the plan "not fiscally responsible" in his own statement.
"I applaud the Republicans for proposing a budget and moving the debate forward. That said, their budget is not fiscally responsible because it simply pushes our problems to next year. We were sent to Sacramento to solve problems once and for all - not kick the can down the alley for others to deal with in the future," the governor said.
Perata has promised a floor debate for any Senate GOP proposal, though it could take Republicans a week to finalize a spending plan.
At the close of session, Republican Sen. Jim Battin rose to challenge Perata's decision to hold session daily, asking why Democrats haven't met every day for the last two months.
"That was then, this is now," Perata replied.
Battin then said of any Republican budget plan in the Democratic-controlled Senate: "My expectation is it will fail."
"Then what happens?" questioned the Inland Empire lawmaker.
"Let's not prejudge," retorted Perata, saying Republicans could unveil a spending plan that "might knock our socks off."
Battin chuckled. Kind of.
But daily sessions might not be so funny for the eleven Republican state lawmakers, including Battin, who are delegates or alternates at the Republican National Convention set to begin on Monday in St. Paul.
Read Capitol Alert's story on that here.