Schwarzenegger threatens to leave office without signing budget

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Nearly four weeks into the fiscal year without a budget, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger suggested Monday that California might have to wait until his successor is sworn in next year to get a spending plan — unless lawmakers give him everything he wants.

Schwarzenegger has said the Legislature must curtail public pensions and change California’s taxation and budgeting systems before he will sign the next budget, his last as governor. He leaves office in January.

“If I do not get all of the things that we need … I will not sign a budget, and it could actually drag out until the next governor gets into office,” Schwarzenegger told reporters after an event at the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, according to a recording provided by his office.

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D- Sacramento) responded in a statement Monday that he was “prepared to grant his wish” if Schwarzenegger “continues to insist on granting billions in corporate tax cuts financed by drastic cuts to public education and programs for working mothers and their children.”

The state faces a $19.1-billion deficit for the fiscal year that began July 1. Rank-and-file lawmakers went on recess weeks ago as talks between top lawmakers and the governor showed little progress. Schwarzenegger blamed them for the tardy spending plan, saying they “go on vacation.”

Lawmakers are set to return to the Capitol next week.

Schwarzenegger also said Monday that he opposes giving legislators the power to pass a budget with a simple-majority vote, or any proposal that would make it easier to raise taxes or fees.

“I even don’t believe in doing the budget” by majority vote, he said.

Schwarzenegger said lowering the vote threshold would ensure that “one party will make all the decisions” in Sacramento.

Voters will decide on such a plan in November. Proposition 25 would change the two-thirds vote requirement to a simple majority vote for passing budgets but maintain a supermajority threshold to raise taxes.

The measure is backed by labor unions and other Democratic groups and opposed by the state Chamber of Commerce.

Anthony York is editor of The Times’ politics and government blog,