There's a palpable sense around the Capitol that the budget saga is entering a phase probably best described as "time to fish or cut bait."
In other words, the negotiations between Governor Schwarzenegger and Democratic legislative leaders on a budget solution can only last so much longer... before one or both sides chooses a new route.
For the governor, such a route would probably mean returning to some kind of revenue raising proposal that requires GOP votes. The current saga, featuring a novel majority-only-tax-package, seems stuck on Schwarzenegger's demands for an economic stimulus package more to his liking, and on additional spending cuts than those agreed to by Democrats. And with last week's new budget proposal, the governor clearly signaled he's prepared to move on. And sources say he has been meeting with Republicans, including Senate GOP Leader Dave Cogdill.
And that may be why Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg seemed to offer a deadline of sorts today. In brief comments with reporters before stepping into a private meeting, Steinberg said the following: "Give us 24-48 hours."
He didn't elaborate on exactly what that means... a deal? a stalemate? Either way, it's hard to see the current chapter of "California Fiscal Doom 2008-2010" lasting much more than another few pages.