Capitol Alert

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Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger issued a challenge Friday to legislators to chop billions more from the state budget in a special session in December, adding that Democratic Gov.-elect Jerry Brown has told him he backs that effort.

"I talked to Gov.-elect Brown, and he's all for it," Schwarzenegger told reporters after examining hybrid cars at the Sacramento International Auto Show at the Cal Expo complex.

"I don't buy into that lame-duck thing, you know," the Republican governor added, explaining his decision to call legislators together on Dec. 6, the day new lawmakers are sworn in but before Brown takes office in January.

The purpose is to tackle an estimated $6.1 billion shortfall in this year's budget, which was passed this summer. The Legislative Analyst's office attributed the new deficit estimate to overly optimistic projections and losses of revenue that were not anticipated.

As voters chose Brown, they also approved Proposition 22, which instantly whacked about $800 million out of the state budget. The measure forbids some transfers of local revenues to the state coffers.

"Eventually, those legislators are going to find out that there is no choice but to make these cuts," said Schwarzenegger, who has stated that his proposal for the special session will not include any tax increase ideas.

Schwarzenegger said that with the Republicans now the majority in the House of Representatives, California can't expect to go to the federal government to help to plug shortfalls.

Now that the election is over, the governor said, maybe legislators will find it easier to make cuts. The Democratic leadership - which considered special sessions to restore some funding the governor slashed for social programs - is pushing back at him, Schwarzenegger acknowledged.

Schwarzenegger also told reporters that he intends to keep pushing his renewable-energy agenda when he's out of the governor's office.

And, surrounded by cars, he talked about how fossil fuels lead to cancer deaths and other health problems.

"I will stay involved in this very important issue," he said, and go to Washington to "slowly warm up Congress" and try to bring Republicans and Democrats together to embrace a renewable-energy plan.

The governor again celebrated the defeat of a Proposition 23, which most Republican legislators supported and would have rolled back Schwarzenegger's signature law on greenhouse-gas emissions.

Attacking oil companies that funded Proposition 23, Schwarzenegger - who was wearing a pair of tough-looking steel-toed, steel-heeled cowboy boots - savored his triumph.

"We made it clear if those interests push us around," he said, "we'll push back."



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