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Budget Agreement Could Be Near – But When Will Schwarzenegger, Legislators Close the Deal?

By Jeff Hudson - July 17, 2009

As budget negotiations aimed at closing California’s $26 billion deficit continued behind closed doors in Sacramento this week, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Senate President pro tem Darrell Steinberg and Assembly Speaker Karen Bass indicated on Monday that they were making progress toward a deal.

Similar statements were heard again on Tuesday . . . and on Wednesday. Then on Thursday, Schwarzenegger told reporters that all parties were “very close” to an agreement.  But the lack of an announcement of an agreement led some to speculate that negotiations had stalled.

It appears that the Governor and legislative leaders have agreed not to suspend Proposition 98, which is a cornerstone of funding for K-12 education.  But it remains unclear what other budget reductions or deferrals will be part of the budget deal that will eventually emerge.

Warnings were also heard that state government is perilously close to financial collapse.  On Thursday, State Treasurer Bill Lockyer issued a statement warning of dire consequences if the budget crisis was not resolved.

“I call on the governor and Legislature to focus exclusively on what it takes to bring this year’s budget back in balance, honestly and immediately,” Lockyer said. “I urge them to narrow, not expand, the list of their disputes, to quit adding or resurrecting endless ideological debating points, and to stop using budget negotiations to score points with political allies or against partisan opponents.  I ask them to stop devoting energy to any issue that does not directly relate to closing this year’s budget gap without adding to out-year liabilities.”

But as of Friday morning, no budget deal had been announced.

Editor's Note: Jeff Hudson is the editor of EdBrief and an award-winning education reporter and writer in print, radio and television media.