SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) – California’s chief financial officer warned Monday that the state would run out of money in about two months as hopes of a Christmas budget compromise melted into political finger-pointing by the end of the day.
Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger began the day on a cheerful note, suggesting that negotiations with Democratic leaders could lead to a budget deal as early as this week to help close the $42 billion shortfall that is projected through June 2010.
“Yesterday we sat there for hours and we worked through it step by step and we made some great progress,” the governor said during a morning news conference in Los Angeles. “So we feel like if we do that two more times like that, I think we can get there … before Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.”
The thaw didn’t last long, as legislative leaders later in the day criticized Schwarzenegger and indicated their work was done until the start of the new year.
The governor faulted lawmakers for “failing to take real action” in addressing the state’s budget deficit but said he will continue working with them on a solution that includes spending cuts, new revenue and an economic stimulus plan.
Assembly Speaker Karen Bass responded by suggesting the governor should sign an $18 billion package Democrats sent to him last week containing both cuts and tax increases.
“The single biggest roadblock to having construction on the 405 (freeway) move forward is Arnold Schwarzenegger,” said Bass, a Los Angeles Democrat.