Governor to veto bills to cut California’s deficit

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California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger speaks during an Elevate America announcement March 10, 2010 in Mountain View, California.

Governor Schwarzenegger says he’ll veto most bills the legislature just passed to reduce the state’s $20 billion deficit. KPCC’s Julie Small says those measures would have reduced that deficit by more than $4 billion.

Most of the budget bills the governor rejected were versions of Schwarzenegger’s own proposals. But he didn’t like some of the fine print the Democrats inserted.

"We send it back " Schwarzenneger said. And he said he told legislative leaders he wasn't going to complain much but that they should "give it another shot."

One bill would have changed California’s complicated gas tax to save a little more than $1 billion. But the governor rejected the Democrats’ plan because it didn’t include his proposal to lower gas taxes by 5 cents a gallon.

"Instead of a tax reduction, they made it a tax addition — an increase in taxes." Schwarzenegger asserted. "I think it’s unacceptable. They should know this from the last six years — that if they sneak something in (a bill) I will always veto (it)."

Senate Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) said the governor’s proposal would have cut money for public transportation and road improvements — and would have cost the state about 15,000 jobs.

Steinberg said he wished the governor had signed the measure and the rest of the budget bills.

"I would have preferred that the Governor take $4.1 billion and put it in the bank" Steinberg said. "But that’s not where we’re at now."

Where state lawmakers are… is back to square one.

Senator Steinberg said he’ll continue to negotiate with the governor about ways California can reduce its $20 billion deficit.

The leader of the Senate said he’s prepared to amend and vote on those budget bills as early as next week.

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