Monday, February 16, 2009
Could there be a better image than the one below from this LA Times story to symbolize the state of the California State legislature?
Apparently, they were up all night trying to get a new budget bill passed in order to close the gaping $41 billion deficit, but they were not able to produce the desired result.
The proposed plan is about an even mix of spending cuts and tax hikes, but the Republican minority doesn't seem to like the tax hikes much and, since budget bills require a two-thirds majority (which the Democrats don't have), nothing gets done until a few Republicans get on board.
In a situation that is not all that different from the U.S. Senate where a couple Republican votes are required to remove the filibuster threat, it is those few lawmakers from across the aisle that become all powerful.
What a way to run a government...
In California last night, Democrats came up one vote short of getting the three Republican votes needed to get the job done so they are set to resume talks at 11 AM today.
The deal appeared done at the weekend's start. Democrats already had sprinkled the budget with concessions to recalcitrant legislators, including more money for Orange County to please Sen. Louis Correa (D-Santa Ana), who had promised during his campaign not to raise taxes.They really ought to just stop paying elected officials on the first day after a new budget is due and it hasn't been passed.
And two Senate Republicans were expected to vote for the package -- Dave Cogdill of Modesto, who played a role in negotiating the deal, and Roy Ashburn, a Bakersfield Republican in his final term. Among the concessions Ashburn won was a proposed $10,000 tax break for new home buyers.
Another key GOP senator, Dave Cox of Fair Oaks, was counted on by his own party's leaders to join the majority Democrats to win the two-thirds vote needed for passage. But Cox balked at the big tax bite.
In a bid to build pressure on balky Republicans, Schwarzenegger was ready to launch the notification process that could lead to the termination of 10,000 state workers in coming months, according to budget negotiators.
"That is a very real possibility," said Aaron McLear, the governor's spokesman.
The termination notices were intended to be sent Friday, but the governor delayed them because a budget vote appeared imminent.
A hit to the pocketbook can work wonders.