Calif. GOP: Budget talks with Schwarzenegger dead

Senate Republican Leader Dave Cogdill declared legislative negotiations with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger essentially dead after an apparently hostile meeting Thursday in the governor's office.

Cogdill, of Modesto, said Schwarzenegger's criticism of GOP members and leaks from "Big 5" meetings between four legislative leaders and the governor have undermined talks.

The Republican governor and legislative leaders publicly blamed one another this week for failure to resolve a $14.8 billion gap in the current $103 billion state general fund budget.

Department of Finance Director Mike Genest estimated the budget gap at $39.8 billion through June 2010. Schwarzenegger's proposed budget – a mix of tax hikes and budget cuts – would reduce the problem through June 2010 to a $19.3 billion, a gap that lawmakers still would have to resolve next year.

Cogdill said he would attend future meetings with Schwarzenegger "out of respect for him and out of respect for his office." But he believes legislative leaders must now broker their own deal without Schwarzenegger.

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