Meanwhile, in Sacramento…

By: - August 26, 2008 12:00 am

A budget crisis in California that has stretched on for nearly two months is putting Democrats in the nation’s most populous state in an awkward position as the party’s convention ramps up in Denver . State lawmakers are under heavy pressure to finish their work at home, but with two Republican votes still needed for the budget to clear the state Senate, many Democrats wish they were attending the festivities in Colorado instead – and, indeed, some of them are.

State Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata (D), a convention delegate, has vowed to keep his chamber open this week and refused to travel to Denver until lawmakers’ work in Sacramento is done.

But the decision did not come as easily to his counterpart in the lower chamber, Assembly Speaker Karen Bass (D), who last week decided to close up shop for most of this week and allow representatives to attend the convention if they wished (even though she herself vowed to stay in California). Bass faced an immediate backlash over the decision and since has rescheduled votes throughout this week – though she stopped short of ordering other Democrats in the state Assembly to stay home.  

A handful of California Democrats attended the convention on Monday, but flew back to Sacramento in time for a late-afternoon floor session. Lawmakers in the Golden State are divided over how to close the state’s estimated .2 billion budget shortfall, and they also must take action on hundreds of non-budget bills.

Republicans are not exempt from the political scheduling conflicts. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, one of his party’s most recognizable faces, is scheduled to address the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis on Monday, but has refused to attend until the budget is finished.  


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