California in midst of fiscal crisis

Schwarzenegger to address deficit

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a fiscal emergency Monday and called lawmakers into a special session to address California’s $11.2 billion deficit.

The state’s revenue gap is expected to hit $28 billion over the next 19 months without bold action. The emergency declaration authorizes the governor and lawmakers to change the existing budget within the next 45 days.

Without quick action, the state is likely to run out of cash in February.

Schwarzenegger and Democrats have proposed a combination of tax hikes and spending cuts, but Republican lawmakers are steadfast in their refusal to raise taxes.

Lawmakers failed to reach a compromise during the special session Schwarzenegger declared last month, pushing the problem to a new Legislature that was being sworn in Monday.

The crisis worsens each week, so the Republican governor did not want to waste any time in declaring a special session, said his spokesman, Aaron McLear.

“It’s important that we start on Day One so the new Legislature can start immediately to solve our fiscal crisis,” he said.

There appeared to be little reason to believe that Republican lawmakers would budge on their opposition to tax increase.

“If anything, I think our resolve (against raising taxes) is deeper than it has ever been because of the economic realities,” Senate Minority Leader Dave Cogdill said Monday.

Democrats don’t have the two-thirds majority in either the Assembly or Senate that is required to pass tax increases or a state budget.

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