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Schwarzenegger looks for more deep cuts in special budget session

November 12, 2010 |  1:00 pm

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger hinted Friday at his agenda for the upcoming special session to tackle California's estimated $25.4-billion budget gap over the next year and half: cuts, cuts and more cuts.

Schwarzenegger said “waiting is not an option” to address the shortfall and that he and lawmakers “need to do everything we can to hand a budget over to the next governor that is as good as possible.”

He said that legislators approved more than $4 billion less in cuts in the current budget than he had proposed and that they should trim more spending.

But even the ever-optimistic governor did not sound bullish about the chances much would get done in his final month in office. He plans to call a special session for Dec. 6 -– the day incoming legislators are sworn in.

“The bottom line is we can only lead the horse to water,” Schwarzenegger said in a press conference after touring the Sacramento Auto Show.

Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles) suggested Thursday that his caucus would rather just wait until Gov.-elect Jerry Brown takes office Jan. 3 to tackle the state’s fiscal problems. “Assembly Democrats believe working with the new governor offers the best path to responsible deficit reduction,” he said in a statement.

Before the election, Pérez called Schwarzenegger “the biggest jerk in the world” at a Democratic rally in Los Angeles.

Asked Friday about his conversation with the speaker, Schwarzenegger paused and smiled before describing the voice mail he left: 'It's the jerk calling.'"

"We have a very good relationship," he added.

Schwarzenegger visibly bristled at one reporter’s suggestion that he and lawmakers knew they approved an out-of-balance budget only 35 days ago.

“We did not know,” Schwarzenegger said sternly.

Nonpartisan Legislative Analyst Mac Taylor said this week that “most people knew” the assumptions used to balance the books were risky. “I don’t think people are shocked that we are going to end the year with a deficit,” he said.

-- Shane Goldmacher in Sacramento