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Question of Assembly's early return persists

The Assembly has been vacationing since two-thirds of the house approved the budget in the early hours of July 20. But with the budget now stuck in Senate, the question of whether the lower house should return persists.

Senate Republican leader Dick Ackerman on Monday said he would like to have the Assembly back during budget negotiations even though the speaker has publicly rejected that option. Ackerman said bond implementation language as well as budget and trailer bills need to be reworked.

Ackerman said he spoke to Assembly Republican leader Mike Villines twice Monday about the budget. Ackerman said he intends to follow up by running some of the possible options by Villines.

"Everybody knows there is no budget and it would be much better to have them sitting around the table and having these discussions because they will be needed to vote on some of the actions we're going to take," Ackerman said after caucusing with fellow Republican senators. "Depending on what scenario would (be considered), we would probably take a vote whether they're here or not. But we'd expect them to come back and act on it. In my opinion, they should be here."

Villines's spokeswoman Jennifer McDaniel says it's not up to the Republican leader to call back all 80 members of the Assembly. That power lies with Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, who left on a European trip after approving the budget. The Assembly is scheduled to return Aug. 20.

Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata has said he won't send the budget back to the lower house. Perata prefers to have Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger negotiate with Republicans.