SACRAMENTO — With the state's budget 52 days overdue, at least 31 Democratic state lawmakers may have to forego one of the hottest political events of the year — the convention coronation of Sen. Barack Obama as their party nominee — and none of them particularly wants to miss out on the show.
"I have a flight, and it is not refundable," said Assemblywoman Anna Caballero, D-Salinas, a Hillary Clinton delegate.
The stalled state spending plan, however, threatens to wreak havoc on their convention-going plans.
"I'm taking it day by day," said Assemblyman Felipe Fuentes, a Los Angeles Democrat and another Clinton delegate.
Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata has decreed that Senate Democrats "need to remain in town to do our business and should not attend" the convention. Ten of the 25 members of Perata's Democratic caucus are also scheduled to be in Denver as convention delegates.
Assembly Speaker Karen Bass, the first African American female speaker in state history, would love to see Obama, the first African American presidential nominee, officially accept his nomination.
But if there's no budget, she said, "I will not be in Denver for seven days, that's for sure." Bass has cancelled all her scheduled Denver events for next week, said spokesman Steve Maviglio.
For many Democratic lawmakers, the Denver gathering would be a first.
"It'll be my first ever national convention," said Assemblywoman Lori Saldana, D-San Diego.
At least one Democratic delegate, ex-Speaker Fabian Nunez, D-Los Angeles, said he's going to Denver, deal or no budget deal. "I'm not negotiating the budget anymore," he said last week. "So I'm going, one way or another."
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has been named a speaker at the GOP convention the first week of September, has said lawmakers should remain in Sacramento to hammer out a budget deal. Schwarzenegger promised to skip the Republican convention if the budget impasse drags past the end of August.
Read the full story at sacbee.com.