Politics & Government

Gov. axes trips as issues linger

Gov. Schwarzenegger announced Friday he has canceled a trip to England and postponed a trade mission to India in case he needs to call a special legislative session that could deal with health care, water storage and redistricting reform.

The governor had been scheduled to speak at a Conservative Party conference in the United Kingdom the last week in September.

But the 52-day budget impasse that ended last week delayed negotiations on the three issues he has identified as his top priorities, and there are only six non-weekend days left in the regular legislative session because lawmakers plan to adjourn Sept. 12 -- two days early -- in observance of the Jewish High Holy Days.

"While I am confident that we will be able to accomplish quite a bit before the end of the legislative session, I need to maintain the flexibility to call a special session," the governor said in a prepared statement.

Schwarzenegger spokesman Aaron McLear said the governor is confident a lot of work will be accomplished during the next couple of weeks, but "there's too much work here in California to be done for him to be going overseas."

Democrats have criticized Schwarzenegger in the past for leaving the state to travel while issues such as the budget have been unresolved.

The governor has used a hands-off strategy ever since Republican and Democratic leaders last year struck deals on the budget and public works bonds without involving him until the end. This year, his strategy was criticized as budget negotiations dragged on.

McLear said it's premature to say health care, water storage and redistricting reform would all be taken up at a special session if the issues are not resolved before the Legislature adjourns.

"Right now, we're focused on getting as much work done as possible before the end of the legislative session on these and other priorities," he said. "But anything is possible."