Lame Duck Legislature, Come On Back

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Governor Schwarzenegger appears resolved to call current legislators back to Sacramento for a special session on the ever-growing state budget problem.

That's according to his press secretary, Aaron McLear.

"We don't believe we can wait until November 30," said McLear, referring to the idea that the newly elected Legislature will officially take office just after the calendar flips to December.

McLear made those remarks this morning during a weekly briefing on Schwarzenegger's upcoming schedule.

In a campaign event yesterday in San Diego, the governor made it clear he doesn't want to wait to shore up the already leaky deficit; current estimates are the shortfall is at least $3 billion.

"We are proposing a special session very soon where Democrats and Republicans will get together and try to solve the economic challenges that we are facing," said Schwarzenegger.

But as to when... well, stay tuned. The governor's advisers say that a better sense of both economic conditions and the depth of California's problems will be known as soon as the end of next week, after financial experts convene in a private meeting in Sacramento to assess the economy.

That doesn't mean, however, that anyone's picked a date to call everyone back. McLear said that's still to be determined. It does appear, however, that Schwarzenegger would also declare a fiscal emergency (under the powers approved by voters in 2004's Proposition 58), which requires both a formal evaluation of the problem and some sense of solutions.

Assuming the soon-to-be-history Legislature does come back, it remains to be seen what kind of political dynamics would exist; it will be interesting to see termed-out legislators being asked to come debate, and vote, on either spending cuts or tax increases... while their replacements are already moving boxes into Capitol offices.

There are 10 senators that are termed out as of December, and 24 members of the Assembly who are departing. It's doubtful any of them thought they'd be coming back to Sacramento. But now it appears they may want to check their calendars.

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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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