My interview yesterday with Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger included a new assertion from the chief executive: that his willingness to break his anti-tax stance earlier this year was a one-time deal to which Democratic legislative leaders agreed.
In the interview, which can be heard in its entirety online at The California Report, Schwarzenegger described the discussion of a tax increase to address the current budget deficit as contrary to a leadership struck this past winter.
"We have all sat here at this table, where we are doing the interview right now," he said, "and all four legislative leaders have promised that we will never come back to that subject again."
Later, he said this:
"I said to them, I said, 'Look, I go there this time. But everyone has to understand, we'll never go back again.' And everyone said, all four of them said, 'No, we understand that we will not address this issue of taxes or fees again. We’re going to solve everything else from now on with just cuts.'"
The entire tax discussion of that interview can be heard below.
No reason to check in with Republicans about this one (especially since both GOP leaders are no longer leaders). So what do the Dem leaders have to say about the governor's recollection?
A spokesperson for Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg says the pro tem never made such an agreement. Simple as that.
"I don't know," said Assembly Speaker Karen Bass when asked yesterday about Schwarzenegger's comments. [Update: A spokesperson for Bass agrees with the Senate leader, says such a pledge didn't happen.]
Does the issue matter to normal people? Nah. This is part of the current Capitol positioning about who's in the right, and who's in the wrong, when it comes to a solution to California's budget morass.
And assuming that the no-new-taxes pledge from the GOP governor and legislators sticks, then the debate might come down to Schwarzenegger's complicated $4.5 billion reserve -- an amount Dems seem unwilling to give him, and an amount he's said is so important that he'll veto any proposal that comes to his desk without this extra cash.