Budget +85: "Framework" Deal
Well, it looks like this could all be over... finally... in a few more days.
The Capitol is buzzing after a spokesperson for Governor Schwarzenegger sent the following email to reporters at 4:01 p.m. Thursday afternoon:
"The Governor and Legislative leaders have reached the framework of an agreement, will work through the details over the weekend, and hope to come to a final agreement when they reconvene Monday."
If you hope to know more than that, you're out of luck for now. While representatives of almost all the legislative leaders have confirmed the existence of said "framework," there hasn't been much more to glean.
Even so, sources close to those talks weren't all that optimistic this morning, which made the late afternoon news all the more surprising. There seemed to still be major differences between Democrats and Republicans on how to properly erase the state's $19 billion budget problem. And today's date on the calendar was one of which everyone was aware -- this was the day in 2008 a budget was signed into law, the latest ever in state history. Today's handshake deal won't change the dubious distinction this budget will have in the record books.
And not everyone seemed as optimistic. How about this emailed statement from Assembly Speaker John Perez: "Today’s meeting has resulted in significant progress, and I believe we have reached a framework for a potential agreement. We will continue to work throughout the weekend to iron out the details."
You've gotta love the qualifiers in that, no?
I'll update this posting should more become clear tonight. But for now, the big questions: did Dems or the Guv blink on the issues of new revenues and repeal of a 1999 state pension law? How deep are the cuts in this budget -- an issue which the two sides were separated on by several billion dollars? And how many gimmicks are left to fill the remaining hole?
Update 8:46 p.m. Well, don't break out the champagne just yet. The consensus among several sources seems to be that there are a lot of moving parts still to be nailed down in the coming day or so. And while the word 'compromise' is mentioned a lot, some key demands of the governor, in particular, remain. Schwarzenegger's spokesman Aaron McLear offered the following comment when I asked him tonight whether the governor conceded any of his often stated demands: "The parameters that he can agree to are budget and pension reform, and he will not sign off on tax increases. So, that remains the case."