Former Calif. AG takes shots a Republican-backed budget compromise

Legal News Line Sep. 22, 2008, 11:58am

Bill Lockyer (D)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Legal Newsline)-Former California Attorney General Bill Lockyer is not cheering the end of the state's historic budget deadlock, which on Monday reached a record 84 days beyond the deadline for the fiscal year budget for 2008-2009.

Lockyer, now state treasurer, said the budget agreement Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is expected to sign this week does little or nothing to solve the state's deep-rooted budget problems.

Lockyer, a Democrat, said Republicans ignored the pressing financial realities facing the state.

"It's compromise in the worst sense," Lockyer wrote on California Progressive Report, a political Web Site. "It compromises our ability to give our kids better schools, provide our families better health care and make our communities more livable."

Schwarzenegger, a Republican moderate who often clashed with conservative party leaders during the budget standoff, is not a fan of the agreement either.

"I don't see that much of a signing ceremony," the governor said during a recent press conference, "because there is nothing to really celebrate that much."

Schwarzenegger badgered legislators to reform the budget during the on-again, off-again negotiations. He said early in the process that he wouldn't sign a budget that "kicks the can down the road" to future legislators or even the next governor.

In the end, he threatened a veto without some of his reforms being put in place, causing the Legislature to back down. Still the end result was not the victory for reform that Schwarzenegger envisioned.

"This budget doesn't even kick the can down the road," Lockyer quipped. "Instead, it kicks California's fiscal future into a ditch on the side of road."

State Republicans adopted a different tone in the aftermath of the budget crisis, claiming their ability to successfully block any increase in taxes earned them a powerful victory in a political year.

"It's a win for the Reps," former Republican state Assemblyman Ray Haynes boasted on a conservative Web site. "(Republicans) should go home proud of their accomplishments, apologize to no one for what they have done, and gird their loins for next year's budget fight. It's going to be even nastier."

Schwarzenegger moved quickly to stake out the high ground for next year's budget battle. The governor announced he would hold a special election in 2009 to gain voter approval of critical reforms.
Schwarzenegger also praised Lockyer's involvement in the budget process, saying the former Democratic legislator and attorney general was actively involved, offering "creative" advice during the negotiations. He said he values the treasurer's opinions.

Lockyer called the budget, "the most irresponsible budget of the past half-century." He wants the 2009 special election to change the current law that requires a two-thirds vote to pass the budget, which would significantly diminish the influence of the minority of conservative Republicans.

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