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Legislators told to be available in case weekend budget deal is reached

March 10, 2011 | 10:44 am

State lawmakers are on call through the weekend for possible action on the budget after Senate leader Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) said Thursday that progress was being made in talks with Republican holdouts on the governor’s spending plan.

Steinberg delayed a proposed Thursday vote on $12 billion in spending reductions after Gov. Jerry Brown asked for more time to negotiate with Republicans who have opposed putting a companion measure on the ballot that would extend tax increases for five years.

"I want to give the governor enough room and time obviously to be able to try to bring negotiations with several of the Republican members to successful conclusion," Steinberg told reporters at the Capitol. "We’re taking it day by day, but yesterday I felt there was some progress made."

He said the Legislature would hopefully act by early next week so that the tax extension could be placed on the June 7 ballot. "Obviously, the next day, two days are going to be very crucial," he said.

Steinberg declined to discuss details of proposals being negotiated but said Democrats have given up a lot in agreeing to the $12 billion in spending cuts. He urged Republicans not to overreach in some of their demands, including proposals to significantly scale back environmental laws.

"We are not going to just give in to demands that aren’t fair and aren’t reasonable," Steinberg said.

"The people elected Jerry Brown, not Meg Whitman," the Senate leader said. "The people returned strong Democratic majorities to the Legislature. The people elected five Democrats as statewide officeholders. And so there has to be some reason here."

He denied that lawmakers were feeling pressure to act quickly because of Proposition 25, a measure approved by voters last year that would stop their pay for every day they fail to pass a budget after the June 15 deadline.

"We will fulfill our constitutional obligation in March so that is not an issue," Steinberg said.

-- Patrick McGreevy