Not Over, You Say?

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"So many tears I've cried. So much pain inside. But baby it ain't over 'til it's over." -- Lenny Kravitz

BUDGET DAY PLUS 78 -- An unexpected and curious meeting took place this afternoon between the four legislative leaders and Governor Schwarzenegger, the kind usually done while budgets are still in flux.

So is this one still in flux? After yesterday, it was understandable if most folks considered the budget script to have been written: Schwarzenegger vetoes budget, Legislature overrides veto, everyone goes home.

And so what was today's confab all about? "Everybody's goal is the same here, said Senate GOP Leader Dave Cogdill after the meeting. "Try and avoid the veto."

Others seemed not so optimistic of changing the governor's mind. "I think he's pretty dug in," said Senate President pro Tem Don Perata upon leaving the meeting.

Perata also suggested the meeting ended earlier than it should have. "I wish he would've stayed, but he didn't," he said.

Schwarzenegger later left Sacramento and flew to Fresno for a previously scheduled budget rally. There, numerous speakers took whacks at the ratified budget as though it were a pinata at a birthday party. "How in God's name can you support that?" said Fresno Mayor Alan Autry.

Schwarzenegger was a little more subdued, telling the crowd that "the important thing now is not to point fingers."

The buzz around the Capitol today is all about figuring out what can be fixed in this budget to gain Schwarzenegger's blessing. On Monday, his focus seemed to be the new rainy day reserve fund, with legislators giving him two of three modfications to the proposal outlined in a now well-publicized letter.

But today's Fresno rally, and yesterday's veto news conference, reinforced the sense that the governor has many more problems with the spending plan.

Is there room to make major changes? Certainly some think there should be; several newspaper editorials and even an organized protest today at the Capitol all were in demand of a new deal.

Troube is, not everyone wants the same changes... which is why the impasse has lasted now more than seven weeks.

The next few days will be interesting. Schwarzenegger isn't scheduled to veto the budget until Friday, leaving everyone some time to think... and some to squirm.

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About John Myers

John Myers is Sacramento Bureau Chief for KQED Public Radio and "The California Report," heard daily on 23 public radio stations across the Golden State.

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