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News briefs

Calif. Lawmakers on Verge Of Ending Budget Crisis

Los Angeles Times

SACRAMENTO, Calif.

Having crashed through their final budget deadline this side of Election Day, state lawmakers remained in the Capitol Tuesday past their scheduled adjournment in an attempt to finish a package of fiscal bills and finally get California's long budget crisis behind them.

Assembly Democrats appeared ready to give Gov. Pete Wilson most of what he has demanded on education spending, with only the terms of their surrender left to be negotiated.

The Democrats' last hope for significantly denting Wilson's demands faded early Tuesday morning when the governor promptly vetoed a Democrat-backed education bill that reached his desk just after midnight. Although that measure contained almost all of a Senate-passed bill Wilson supported, he said that he could not sign it because it lacked a provision to suspend the state's constitutional guarantee for school funding in the event that the education budget is struck down by the courts.

As lawmakers gathered for late-afternoon floor sessions, state Treasurer Kathleen Brown was redeeming IOUs with money borrowed from the state employees pension fund.

Controller Gray Davis, meanwhile, prepared to churn out thousands of checks to vendors who have been providing goods and services to the state without reimbursement since July 1. Davis said that he would begin paying the $3 billion in overdue bills as soon as Wilson signs a budget. The first payments would be made with IOUs until the treasurer can borrow money to ease the state's cash crunch.

Wilson on Tuesday met in his office with the Republican members of the Senate and Assembly to plot strategy for the evening. He also reviewed the $57.6 billion spending plan on his desk, looking for items he might trim with his line-item veto. Wilson has vowed not to sign the budget until the Legislature sends him the entire package of bills needed to make it balance.

Bush Clears Way for Sale Of Warplanes to Taiwan

Los Angeles Times

WASHINGTON

Overturning a decade of U.S. policy toward China, President Bush has decided to clear the way for the sale of American F-16 warplanes to Taiwan to counteract Beijing's growing military power, administration sources and congressional officials said Tuesday.

The president is expected to make an official announcement Wednesday during a trip to Texas. While White House officials Tuesday would not officially confirm the decision to sell the jet fighters, they did acknowledge that Bush would stop in the Fort Worth area Wednesday and would meet with workers at General Dynamics, the company that produces the F-16s.

A spokesman for Sen. Lloyd Bentsen, D-Texas, said Tuesday night that the senator "has been reliably informed" that Bush will make public his approval for the sale of F-16s to Taiwan during his campaign swing in Texas.

The F-16 sale will mark an important victory for Taiwan and a defeat for China on an issue on which both governments have been maneuvering since the early 1980s. Bush's decision will also apparently be a significant setback for France, which has been hoping to sell its own warplanes to Taiwan to help salvage French defense industries.

Asked how the Bush administration will explain its decision to Beijing, one U.S. official quipped, "It's like the old one where you have to kick your kid in the fanny and say, `This hurts me more than it hurts you.' "

The administration's decision demonstrates the close interaction between foreign policy and presidential politics. In late July, General Dynamics said it was planning to lay off 5,800 of the 20,000 workers at its plant in Fort Worth over the next two years. Texas Gov. Ann Richards, a Democrat, quickly and publicly blamed the loss of jobs on Bush's opposition to the sale of jet fighters to Taiwan.

Only a few days later, the president, during another campaign trip to Texas, told reporters there that he was reconsidering the longstanding U.S. prohibition against allowing Taiwan to buy advanced American warplanes.

Ten years ago, in an agreement which then-Vice President Bush helped to negotiate, the United States signed a joint communique with China's Communist government, agreeing to restrict U.S. arms sales to Taiwan and eventually to phase them out. The deal was worked out at a time when Taiwan was seeking to persuade the Reagan administration to let it buy F-16s.

American officials now argue that the military balance between China and Taiwan has been fundamentally changed by Beijing's recent purchases of Russian Sukhoi 27 warplanes, which are advanced jet fighters with a range of more than 2,400 miles.

Weather

Fair Weather Continues

By Michael<\p>Morgan
Staff Meteorologist

High pressure crests over the region today and moves off to our southeast on Thursday. An approaching disturbance from the Midwest will increase our chances for measureable precipitation late Thursday.

Today: Mostly sunny and mild. High 75F (24C), cooling to the upper 60's (20C) along the coast as a feeble see breeze develops.

Tonight:<\p>Clear. Low 60F (16C).

Tuesday:<\p>Increasing clouds and milder. Showers arriving toward sunset. High 79F (26C).

Friday: Variably cloudy with showers. High around 77F (25C). Low in the low 60's (17C)