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February 15, 2009

Cal. Legislature Debates Budget Overnight; Republican Senators Standing Firm on Taxes

The California Senate suspended balloting on the budget measure late last night when it became clear that it would not pass. They believe they are one short of passing it and Governor Schwarzenegger wanted time to strong-arm Republican senators.

The proposed measure would increase the state sales tax and gasoline tax, impose a 5 percent surcharge on income taxes, boost vehicle license fees, and reduce the dependent-care tax credit.

So far, Republican senators thankfully aren't biting.

Its counter-intuitive to think that you can solve this budget problem in this economy with tax increases, said Senator Dave Cox, a Sacramento-area Republican who Democrats had counted on to vote for the package. Democrats control both legislative chambers.

He's right. We're already in a recession. Raising the cost of goods and services now is going to retard economic growth even more. The goal of the state government should be to encourage growth, not feed the bureaucratic behemoth.

Here's Senator Abel Maldonado, another Republican who Schwarzenegger hoped to turn:

"I've always been a person who's been open-minded and tried to bring both sides together," Maldonado said. "But on this one, where they're asking for almost $15 billion in tax increases, it just goes against what I believe in my heart and my values."

Maldonado added, "There's nothing they can give me that would make me vote for this budget."

Schwarzenegger had threatened to start laying off 10,000 state employees if a budget hadn't passed by Friday. That is, this past Friday. He held off believing that a budget deal was close.

Simultaneous with the procedural suspension in the Senate, the Assembly Speaker Karen Bass (Democrat) locked her chamber down and refused to let anyone leave. The legislature was kept overnight, but to no avail. The budget deal is still stalled.


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