By Amy Chance – Sacramento Bee | Published 3:28 pm PDT Friday, September 19, 2008
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger told a Capitol press conference this afternoon that the budget the Legislature will consider tonight is "an improvement" over earlier versions, but still fails to solve California's structural financial problems.
"Unfortunately the Legislature was unable to make the hard decisions to end our structural deficit, but this budget is an improvement of the earlier versions," he said. The Republican governor nevertheless plans to sign it next week, perhaps as early as Monday.
"Hospitals, nursing homes, day care services will be able to get paid...and California will be able to fulfill its obligations," said Schwarzenegger, who said he hopes to move on to make redistricting changes, reform the health care system and develop a statewide water plan.
"I don't see much of a signing ceremony, because there's nothing to celebrate," he said.
Schwarzenegger said he would support an initiative to penalize lawmakers when the budget is late.
"The one thing that I would look at right away is to create consequences so that when the Legislature is late one day there are consequences," he said. "Even after two months, you know, they are just very relaxed about it and in the meantime you cannot pay your bills. I think there's something wrong with that."
The governor said such a ballot measure would have to be put on via initiative, because the Legislature would not do it themselves. "I don't think it will get done in this building," he said.
Schwarzenegger: Special election in '09
SAC BEE CAPITOLALERT by Shane Goldmacher on September 19, 2008 3:25 PM
After three elections in 2008, California voters better start gearing up for another election in 2009. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said he and the Legislature would call a special election next year for voters to approve changes to the lottery and, likely, budget reform in a press conference announcing he would sign the budget.
"Because of the lottery and various different other things, yes, we will be calling a special election," Schwarzenegger said.
The timing of a special election next year remains up in the air. In March, voters in Los Angeles, the state's largest city, are set to go to the polls for a mayoral election. Consolidating a special election with that one could save the state money.
But Schwarzenegger said Friday that "March is probably too early. It could be June."
A special election appeared likely after the initial passage of the budget on Tuesday morning, with the overhaul of the state's rainy-day fund and the changing of the state lottery both requiring voter approval.
Since 2002, Californians have had to go to the polls at least once every year except 2007.
Besides the regularly scheduled elections, there was the 2003 recall and the 2005 special election. By 2010, voters will have been to the polls in eight of nine years.