"It Fell Short On Every Single Level"
That's Governor Schwarzenegger's take on the Democratic deficit relief package sent to him this afternoon, an opinion that he said will lead him to veto the $18 billion proposal.
The governor didn't waste much time knocking the plan down; the Legislature had wrapped up work just a little bit before he appeared before reporters and declared the package dead on arrival.
"I was very disappointed," Schwarzenegger said. He then went on to say that the plan never met his definition of a solid economic stimulus, and rattled off a list that Capitol watchers have been hearing about since last night, like not enough public-private partnerships, and not enough public works projects exempted from the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).
"It is one thing when you say economic recovery package," he said. "But when you read through it, it actually doesn't do anything."
And he made special note of the package's spending cuts, especially its approach on state employee salary reductions, declaring that the "special interests" had apparently won again (comments reminiscient of Arnold 2004/2005).
The governor took on that issue, and more, in the clip you can hear below.
Democrats immediately struck back for what they say was a too hasty rejection of their work.
"The governor claims he wants to negotiate but then says things must be exactly as he wants," said Assembly Speaker Karen Bass in a written statement. "That is astonishing given the crisis we face."
What was perhaps more interesting was that the governor didn't reject the $18 billion package because of its unusual, and controversial, majority-only tax increase that dominated the legislative debate today.
"I don't get into those debates," he said. "I let someone else do that." Later, as he walked off stage, Schwarzenegger told one reporter that had the stimulus/cuts part of the plan been to his liking, he would've signed it.
So what next? That's the $40 billion question. Democratic leaders say they've sent legislators home for the holidays, but the governor urged them not to leave. And if they come back, what's the key to a deal? Less deference to labor unions when it comes to state worker cuts? More deference to the business community? Less demands from Schwarzenegger?
(An interesting moment today: the guv made it clear that some demands made by the GOP -- worker overtime laws and the like -- weren't deal breakers; "I'm more than happy to compromise on that," he said.)
Hard to see how this process just needs a little more time. Meanwhile, the fiscal crisis looms even larger, even as most thoughts will now turn to the holiday week ahead.