Perata Attempts To Squelch Borrowing Buzz

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BUDGET DAY PLUS 29 -- The hallmark of a good horror movie is that just when everyone thinks they've stabbed, or strangled, or mutilated the monster to death... he rears up again, scaring the bejeebers out of everyone.

In budget terms, Senate President pro Tem Don Perata appears to be trying again to kill the ugly budget beast that is talk of raiding transportation funds.

In an emailed letter from his campaign this afternoon, the Oakland Democrat emphatically stated he is not on board with any plan to take money from the Proposition 42 and Proposition 1A transporation funding guarantees.

"Raiding these funds now would break faith with voters who joined us in supporting the plan to rebuild California," Perata writes. "I can't stop people from floating trial balloons in Sacramento, but I can sure shoot this one down before it gets very far."

This is not the first time Perata has rejected such Capitol budget chatter. And transportation groups are already growling at legislators, through a media campaign, to stay away from their money.

But still the talk persists, with more and more Capitol denizens seemingly braced for some kind of eventual deal that relies on borrowing -- a theory espoused today in a piece by Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Weintraub.

Of course, one could parse the words in Perata's letter and observe that his pledge to not borrow only specifies transportation funding, and not the myriad of other funds approved by voters in recent years. But on previous occasions, the pro tem has condemned talk of all such borrowing schemes... so perhaps he's still referring to the whole concept.

But as the budget impasse drags on, and Governor Schwarzenegger prepares to issue his minimum wage executive order tomorrow, today's promise from a leading Democrat only further confuses those of us watching the process as to how it'll all get resolved.

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About John Myers

John Myers is senior editor of KQED's new multimedia California Politics & Government Desk.  He has covered California politics for most of the past two decades -- serving previously as Sacramento bureau chief for KQED News and, most recently, as political editor for KXTV News10 (ABC) in Sacramento. He moderated the only gubernatorial debate of 2014, and was named one of the nation's top statehouse reporters by The Washington Post. Follow him on Twitter @johnmyers.

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