Finally, a deal...

Feb 19, 2009

"Voting near dawn to end a three-month impasse, the California Senate approved a deal that Democrats and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger reached with a GOP holdout to resolve the state's fiscal emergency," report the LA Times's Capitol team.


The Assembly also just approved the plan.


"Under the arrangement, Sen. Abel Maldonado of Santa Maria provided the final Republican vote needed to pass a spending plan with billions of dollars in tax hikes. In exchange, Democrats agreed to rewrite election rules that Maldonado said had allowed the Capitol to become paralyzed by partisanship, leading the state to the brink of financial ruin.

"The final plan incorporated most of the framework of the original budget compromise from Democratic and Republican leaders. It included billions of dollars in cuts to schools, healthcare institutions, higher education and programs for the poor. If signed by Schwarzenegger, who helped devise the package, it also would raise personal income taxes and the state sales tax, although a 12-cent per-gallon increase in gasoline taxes was eliminated in the final hours.

"Democrats initially said Maldonado's call for "open" primaries, in which voters could cross party lines and candidates of all parties would compete in the same primary, followed by a runoff of the top two vote-getters, was too substantial to be pushed through in a budget deal. But Maldonado said the current budget stalemate proved that California could not return to fiscal sanity without fundamental changes in the way it elects its representatives."


Maldonado invoked Ronald Reagan in a passionate speech, recognized that it might mean "the end" for him and took aim at his party's new conservative leadership.


"When I took an oath to defend the state...I never thought I'd have to defend it against my party."


Kevin Yamamura looks at who got what, with Maldonado as the big winner.


The Bee's Kevin Yamamura and Aurelio Rojas report:  "The Senate resumed session around 3:40 a.m. and initially hit a snag as four Democrats refused to vote for Maldonado's proposal to have an open primary system in California elections. Intended to reduce party influence in elections, the open primary system would have the top two candidates in a primary face off in the subsequent general election.

"But the Senate ultimately passed out that plan. Several members strongly objected to the open primary bill but voted for it anyway because they said it was even more important to avoid a cash crisis and avert the planned shutdown today of 374 construction projects valued at $5.58 billion in the absence of a budget.

"'This is not good government, this is not political reform, this is old-fashioned special interest,' said Sen. Gloria Romero, as she reversed her initial 'no' vote to 'aye,' helping the open primary bill pass."


The election for open primary, lottery, spending cap, legislative pay, Proposition 10 and Proposition 63 changes will be May 19. 


Political consultants...start your engines!  By the way, we have advertising space available...


Capitol Weekly takes a look at the new microblogging phenomenon that grew up around the state budget stalemate.


"Sometime during the Senate lockdown Saturday, KQED Capitol reporter and blogger John Myers signed up for Twitter. From the back of the Senate chambers, Myers began posting details of the budget wrangling as most people were enjoying the beginning of their holiday weekend.

What followed in the hours of the budget stalemate was a true new-media phenomenon. Word of Myers’ Twitter feed spread virally among those hungry for the latest scraps of information about the budget standoff. And within hours, Myers’ Twitter site was the most authoritative and most sought-after source of real-time, insider budget information.


"'The back and forth nature of these marathon sessions seemed to be a good fit for the short, headline-like nature of Twitter,' Myers said.  'Apparently, it caught on.  We’ve gotten more than 150 emails of folks who are enjoying the postings.'


"Capitol Weekly also got into the act, starting a Twitter feed of its own to document the goings-on in the Capitol."


"Myers says his Twittering future is in question.


"'I don’t think I will be a full time Twitter reporter once this impasse is resolved,' said Myers.  'It’s a great tool for certain kinds of journalistic coverage -- budget debates, political conventions, election nights, maybe even campaign coverage.  But let’s face it; I’m not about to Twitter on how Proposition 98 works.'"


Now that the budget appears to be wrapping up, Capitol Weekly looks ahead to the Republican convention in Sacramento this weekend.


"The political shock waves from the budget stand-off, still ongoing as of this writing, are being felt throughout Republican California. And as the party faithful prepare to gather in Sacramento this weekend, some are out for blood.


"'There are moves afoot to try to censure members who support the tax increase,' DeVore said. But perhaps surprisingly, DeVore does not think censure is a good idea.

"'I don’t think it’s appropriate for the convention,' he said. 'This is a political dispute. It’s not like there’s any moral shortcoming' among supporters of the budget deal.


"But that hasn’t stopped some from launching fledgling recall efforts against would-be supporters of the budget deal. DeVore said there has been talk among a conservative group called the Atlas PAC about bankrolling potential recall campaigns against Republican lawmakers.

"Atlas PAC’s chairman, Lee  Lowrey, said recall efforts were ready to go. And his group has Anthony Adams in its sites.

"'We’ll be the leaders on that,' he said of a potential Adams recall. 'He’s a brand-new Assemblyman, and as far as we’re concerned he’s going to be gone.'


Malcolm Maclachlan looks at how the budget will impact counties. "Data from the Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) suggests that cuts could likely hit many Republican areas hardest—while the tax burden is already falling more heavily on Democratic leaning counties.

"According to the data distributed by Assembly Budget Committee chairwoman Noreen Evans, D-Santa Rosa, the majority of the counties using the most in state services are generally represented by Republicans. When this data on 2007-2008 state spending is compared to registration data from the Secretary of State’s office, it shows that seven out of the top 10 counties receiving state expenditures, measured per capita, have Republican registration majorities. Of the top 10 counties that contributed the most per capita tax dollars in 2006, eight have Democratic registration majorities."


John Howard takes a look at how the federal stimulus package will impact Medi-Cal. "California’s Medi-Cal program, a state-federal system that provides health care to 6.7 million people, is expected to receive at least $10 billion – more than a fourth of its entire budget – as part of federal legislation intended to boost public health care funding.

"For the strapped state struggling to cover an unprecedented budget deficit, the money comes at a crucial time.

"However, to obtain the funds, which by one estimate could be as high as $11.23 billion, the state will have to reverse restrictions on eligibility that it imposed last year."


Finally, more good news out of Sacramento.  "Sacramento police announced this afternoon that Lance Armstrong's stolen time-trial bicycle valued at $10,000 has been recovered -- and Armstrong thanked the police department for its help minutes after finishing the Clovis leg of the Amgen Tour of California.

"A local resident brought the bike into Sacramento Police headquarters on Freeport Boulevard at about 10:35 a.m. Wednesday, police said in a news release.

"'Detectives confirmed that the bike was in fact Armstrong's stolen bicycle,' the statement said.

"The bike is quite distinctive, described by the seven time Tour de France champion as one of a kind.

"Police said the person with the bike wanted to remain anonymous.

"'Right now we're treating him as a person who did the right thing and turned it in,' said Sgt. Norm Leong."


Just like Abel Maldonado...who also might have preferred to remain anonymous.

Get the daily Roundup
free in your e-mail

The Roundup is a daily look at the news from the editors of Capitol Weekly and
Privacy Policy