February 12, 2009 By Hilton Collins
Sacramento, Calif. -- When California Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, spoke at a press conference on Wednesday, he talked about resolving the state's budget issues -- so much so that he had little time to address anything else. He said that legislators and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger were working with a framework that will become the state's new budget, barring some minor details. But he said incorporating the state's adoption of green technology wouldn't be part of the negotiations right now.
"It's certainly an issue we will tackle as the year goes on," he said.
Steinberg a Green Initiatives Backer
In January, Steinberg and Assembly Speaker Karen Bass, D-Los Angeles, announced a $2.3 billion green economic stimulus proposal to create jobs and enhance California's environment, but that issue took a back seat to the hot issue of the moment: the state's financial debacle.
Steinberg's appearance at the noon press conference came two weeks after Schwarzenegger spoke to the press about addressing the state's $40 billion deficit and how his proposed IT consolidation would affect state jobs. Steinberg, well-aware that reporters wanted to hear about how the legislature would reach a budget deal, joked that the title of his Wednesday speech was "Eight Babies: Too Many or Too Few?" to much laughter, an obvious riff off the popular recent news about a woman who recently gave birth to octuplets.
"I just have a hard time understanding, why all the attention? Why all the reporters?" he joked.
Steinberg said that legislative leaders and the governor had been trying hard to maintain the confidentiality of budget talks so far, and that discussions were moving in a positive direction towards resolution. Leaders and the governor just had to work out some details.
"We must avert the stoppage of 142 Caltrans transportation projects and the jobs that these projects create," he said. "We must avert mass layoffs. We must avert IOUs. We must avert the continuing downward rating of our credit, and most importantly, we must end the fear and the anxiety Californians feel today."
The Sacramento Bee also reported Wednesday that legislators and Schwarzenegger had reached a tentative deal to close the state's budget gap but are working out some issues. But in his press conference, Steinberg said that the term "deal" is overused and wouldn't like to think that one had been reached until loose ends were worked out and a "complete review of very, very complicated language."
The Bee also reported that a vote was scheduled for Saturday.
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