"I know this will be difficult, but as we know from experience, putting off the hard decisions to bring spending in line with our revenues only makes solving the problem more difficult," said Schwarzenegger in a press release this afternoon.
The governor's decision comes only a day after the independent Legislative Analyst's Office pegged the current year shortfall at $6.1 billion, compounded by a deficit in the coming fiscal year of $19.3 billion.
Schwarzenegger spokesman Aaron McLear says the governor felt time was of the essence. McLear also says that while the governor-elect's team has been informed, the budget proposal Schwarzenegger will give the newly minted Legislature is not being crafted in consultation with the new chief executive.
Brown is on vacation this week in Arizona, and his advisers seem to be taking a cautious tone in reacting to the news. "This special session underscores the enormous challenges facing the state," says a written statement from Brown spokesman Evan Westrup. "While the Governor-elect did not create this fiscal crisis, he and his transition team will continue the work they started after election day, collaborating with administration and department of finance officials, the legislative analyst's office, legislators, and others to address California's budget problems."
Lest anyone think otherwise, Schwarzenegger's statement also puts to rest whether all options would be considered: "Legislators will have to face the ugly truth that we can only spend the revenues we have."
The real question is whether majority Democrats, eager to roll up their sleeves with a Democratic governor, will have any interest in cutting spending in the last hours of the Schwarzenegger era. Also worth pondering is whether the state's cash position -- remember, cash woes are always the first worry, more so that budget red ink that may take until June to fully materialize -- requires December, rather than January, action.
This is the eighth special session related to the budget in Schwarzenegger's seven years in office.
Schwarzenegger's full statement is here.