Governor: No Budget, No Signature on Bills
With little leverage gained from an executive order reducing state workers' pay the previous week, Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said this week he will sign no more legislation until lawmakers pass a budget.
California is moving into its sixth week without an annual budget. Although the governor is worried about California covering its expenses, Controller John Chiang (D) said the state has enough money to pay its bills into October.
Legislators said the signature threat will have little practical effect. Assembly Speaker Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles) labeled the move "yet another distraction that won't have much impact." Incoming Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) said the ploy was "not constructive."
"We need the governor to help solve the problem -- not to make threats," Steinberg said.
Without a signature, bills become law 12 days after they land on the governor's desk. Schwarzenegger said he will veto bills before the 12-day period expires. However, before the legislative session ends Aug. 31, the 12-day rule is suspended for six weeks. Bills withheld from the governor's desk until Aug. 18 would remain in play through the end of September.
The move comes after talk of negotiations between the administration and Democrats hoping to salvage some of the progress made during health care reform efforts. The governor and Democratic leaders said earlier this week they are getting close to agreement on bills to limit insurer profit on individual health plans, require plans to provide a minimum set of benefits and restrict insurers' ability to cancel policies retroactively.
How the budget impasse may affect negotiations on insurance reform bills remains to be seen. In the meantime, here is a rundown on some bills that made it to the governor's desk before he put down his pen.