SACRAMENTO (AP) - State lawmakers are set to begin their annual state budget debate this week, but this year the tempo is expected to be more intense than usual.
The Legislature usually doesn't begin serious budget negotiations until the governor makes his revised spending proposals in mid-May, but this year the state is facing a $14.5 billion deficit over the next 18 months.
An emergency declaration issued by Governor Schwarzenegger requires lawmakers to begin work on how to erase more than $3 billion in red ink in the current budget.
Budget committees in both houses are set to hold hearings on Thursday.
Meanwhile, 29 other legislative committees have hearings scheduled this week to deal with legislation left over from 2007.
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)