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Lame-duck Schwarzenegger calls emergency budget session for new lawmakers

November 11, 2010 |  4:32 pm

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will declare a fiscal emergency and call  an emergency session of the incoming Legislature  to address California’s massive budget deficit, a spokesman for the governor said Thursday. Schwarzenegger's announcement comes one day after the state’s chief budget analyst said the shortfall has grown to $25.4 billion.

By declaring a fiscal emergency and calling the special session, the governor hopes that the new legislators can tackle many of the problems left from the budget that he and the outgoing Legislature approved 34 days ago. That spending plan -- passed 100 days into the fiscal year -- is the latest in modern California history.

The goal of the session is to address the estimated $6.1-billion shortfall in the current budget, said  Schwarzenegger spokesman Aaron McLear.

Mac Taylor, the state's nonpartisan legislative analyst, had warned Wednesday that tackling the projected $25.4 billion deficit over the next year and a half would be "much more difficult than last year."

Schwarzenegger has less than two months left in office and the current crop of legislators do not depart until the end of this month. The incoming class of legislators is to be sworn in Dec. 6. The GOP governor indicated that there was no time to waste in addressing a budget shortfall that far surpassed estimates made by state officials days earlier.

Gov.-elect Jerry Brown, a Democrat, will be sworn into office the first week in January. McLear said "the governor-elect's team is aware" of Thursday's proclamation.

“This special session underscores the enormous challenges facing the state," Brown spokesman Evan Westrup said in a statement  "While the governor-elect did not create this fiscal crisis, he and his transition team will continue the work they started after election day, collaborating with administration and department of finance officials, the legislative analyst's office, legislators and others to address California's budget problems.”

Senate Republican leader Bob Dutton of Rancho Cucamonga wrote to the governor on Wednesday asking for an just such an emergency declaration.

"Delaying action only makes the problem more difficult to solve," Dutton wrote.

-- Shane Goldmacher and Anthony York in Sacramento