Budget: Return To Sender

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BUDGET DAY PLUS 77 -- So what should we call it? Extra Innings? The Throw Down in Sac Town? Maybe various riffs on Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's movie career?

Whatever it ends up being labeled, the budget saga took a decidedly confrontational turn today when the governor announced that he will veto the spending plan... and... just for good measure, "hundreds" of other pieces of legislation sent to his desk from the just concluded legislative year.

In other words, it's on.

"Enough is enough," a defiant Schwarzenegger said at this afternoon's news conference. "Californians have put through this roller coaster ride too many times."

No need to belabor the issue here, as just about every news organization (including us) will have this story out before the sun goes down. The governor was somewhat evasive on how many bills he'll veto, which may mean that some proposals in 2008 he supported or sponsored will still become law.

As for other tibits...

Did Schwarzenegger ever specifically promise Democratic leaders that he could deliver GOP votes for a tax increase?

Senate President pro Tem Don Perata, speaking early this morning after the budget vote, said yes:

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But when asked about that this afternoon, the governor painted a different picture.

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The governor also took a jab at the budget's systemic reform plan -- specifically, the provision to create a rainy day fund equal to 12.5% of revenues. Schwarzenegger wanted to make it tougher to take money out, and today called the proposal "fake budget reform."

And in a sign that he's already moved on... sort of... the governor predicted his veto will be overriden, something that's starting to seem certain based on statements from even Republicans, like Senate GOP Leader Dave Cogdill.

The governor predicted the budget deal will force either a "huge tax increase next year, or to cut education severely."

Of course, the veto and theoretical override (which could begin as soon as tomorrow in the Assembly, depending on the outcome of private legislative meetings today) allow the governor to do something else: wash his hands of the spending deal from a PR perspective... thereby saying, hey, I tried to stop it.

Legislators and others will no doubt quibble with that perception... given they believe many elements of the budget were either the administration's ideas or at least agreed upon by the governor.

But Schwarzenegger has proven himself to be a master at the simple and direct political kind of messaging -- something that could easily fit with a budget that the Legislature seems to go around him to implement.

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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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