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Transition of Power: New Lawmakers Sworn In, Already Thinking About Budget

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(Sacramento, CA)
Monday, December 6, 2010

Incoming California Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye administered the oath of office in the Assembly…

"I, state your name, do solemnly swear…"

And then most lawmakers were off to celebrate with their families and new colleagues. But the fun may be short lived. Right away, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger called a special session to deal with the state's fiscal problems, and presented a plan of his own.

However; most Democrats, like Senate Leader Darrell Steinberg, would prefer to wait until governor-elect Jerry Brown is in office.

"The truth of the matter is Governor Brown, Governor-elect Brown, and this new legislature are the ones who are going to live with the results of the work we do over the next several months."

Even returning Republican Assembly member Dianne Harkey says there's no point in working with a lame duck governor.

"It wouldn't really behoove us to move now when the new governor is termed out."

But many Republicans say now is as good a time as any to confront the state's fiscal problems. Anthony Cannella is a new Republican State Senator.

"I don't know if the problem will be solved but I think part of the criticism from people outside this building is why do you wait so long to deal with the budget? So I think we should start looking at the budget now and we should start exploring ideas."

Schwarzenegger's plan would save the state 10 billion dollars, mostly through cuts. Meanwhile, governor - elect Brown is having a budget briefing for lawmakers later in the week. That's what new Assembly Democrat Susan Bonilla is waiting for.

"We do have to address the budget. It'll be very interesting to hear what Governor-elect Brown has to say on Wednesday, and it looks like in January we'll be right in the thick of trying to resolve that issue."

This year's budget is six billion dollars out of balance, and there's another 19 billion dollar shortfall estimated for next year.
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