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No Immediate Sign of Resolution In California Budget Crisis

The Washington Post


Republican Gov. Pete Wilson and Assembly Speaker Willie L. Brown Jr., a Democrat, played political brinkmanship Monday as the California budget crisis dragged through a 62nd day without immediate sign of resolution.

While protesters shouted "sign or resign" outside his office, Wilson calmly told reporters that he had no intention of signing the long-delayed $57.6 billion budget unless the legislature also approves implementing measures that would keep the spending plan in balance.

Legislative approval of the budget over the weekend was widely hailed as signaling the end of a crisis that has caused the state to pay its 274,000 workers with IOU's since July 1 while leaving most other bills unpaid. The crisis has caused severe hardship to vendors who supply state institutions and to nursing homes, many of which are scheduled to close down this week unless the budget is signed because they are heavily dependent on state payments.

But Brown served notice Sunday that he and the majority Democratic caucus in the Assembly would not go along with the Senate versions of several measures needed to implement about $5 billion in spending cuts.

The most significant of these measures, called "trailer bills," is an education bill that the Assembly rejected 45 to 1 at Brown's behest in a post-midnight session Monday. When it subsequently became apparent that Brown could muster the votes to pass his own potentially costlier version of the education bill, Wilson announced he would veto it.

Wilson has 30 days to sign the budget and Democrats concede they lack the votes to override a veto. The governor said he will not sign the budget until all of the implementing measures have reached his desk.

Pressure is building on the Assembly and the governor. Disabled, blind and elderly Californians, many of whom have suffered a loss or delay in medical care during the budget crisis, have besieged the state Capitol with phone calls, letters and demonstrations such as the one Monday in front of the governor's office.

Meanwhile, the state's credit rating has slipped and the approval ratings of Wilson and the legislature have reached all-time lows. The crisis has become a staple of late-night comedians. Jay Leno, for example, linked the fires that have ravaged California with the budget and said, "You have the feeling that ... Wilson is going to burn the state down for the insurance money."

U.N. Team Arrives in Baghdad For New Round of Inspections

Los Angeles Times

MANAMA, Bahrain

As scores of U.S. warplanes continued to patrol over southern Iraq Monday, a 21-member U.N. nuclear-weapons inspection team arrived in Baghdad for a weeklong mission that its Italian leader said he hoped would be routine, "quiet and fruitful."

But with the Kuwaiti government reporting a border incident with armed Iraqi civilians that left one Kuwaiti policeman dead and another seriously wounded, and U.N. officials telling of a bomb incident Friday involving a vehicle used by U.N. guards in Baghdad, the inspection team's leader, Maurizio Zifferero, declined to rule out a confrontation with Iraq's leadership during his team's deliberately low-key visit.

Zifferero, who talked with reporters here in Bahrain before departing for Baghdad and again upon arrival in the Iraqi capital, stressed that his team of 15 inspectors and six support personnel from the United States, France, Germany, Italy and Poland hope that the intensive U.S.-led aerial enforcement of a "no-fly zone" banning Iraqi military flights over predominantly dissident Shiite enclaves in southern Iraq would not disrupt their mission to ferret out missing pieces of Iraq's ambitious nuclear-weapons program.

Asked whether his team's mission, described by sources close to the U.N. effort to strip Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction as "largely paper work," could be used as a pretext by the West to escalate military action against Iraq, Zifferero said, "This is the opinion of some people, and we might happen to be the cause. But this is not our intention."

"Our policy is not to be the cause of provocation," he said, clearly referring to the standoff over a previous team's demand for access to Iraq's Agriculture Ministry building in July. That confrontation triggered the latest round of tension between President Bush and Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

Meanwhile in New York, a spokesman at U.N. headquarters reported that U.N. humanitarian workers in Iraq and their guards were placed on maximum alert Friday after a bomb was found attached to a car used by three of the guards.


Seasonable Weather Continues

Our run of sunny, warm days continues into midweek as a large high pressure cell crosses the area during the forecast period. Winds will diminish on Wednesday as the high will be directly over us. Temperatures begin to warm up on Thursday as the high settles to our southeast and winds become more southerly.

Today: Mostly sunny and warm. Winds west 10-15 mph (6-10 kph). High 76F (24C).

Tonight: Clear and cool. Low 57F (14C).

Tomorrow: Sunny and mild. Winds light early, may turn onshore as a sea breeze develops. High temperatures mid 70s (24C) inland, upper 60's (19C) along the coast. Lows near 60F (16C).

Thursday: Increasing clouds and milder. High near 80F (27C).