Still No State Budget

February 16, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
The State Senate went back to work Monday, still one vote short of being able to approve a state budget. The assembly is believed to be ready to approve the new spending plan, but that won't matter unless one of the thirteen Republican Senators now against the package decides to switch sides.

It has been tough to convince one last GOP member to break ranks because a 'yes' vote on a package that includes more than $14 billion dollars in new taxes is considered the end of their political career.

Senator Roy Ashburn is widely believed to the second republican to break ranks.

The three republican votes were all but sewn up when lawmakers went into a rare Saturday evening session.

But state Senator Dave Cox, who was that third GOP member, had a change of heart at the last minute because of all the new taxes.

So the focus has been on central coast Senator Abe Maldonado, a moderate Republican Democrats have always been able to count on in years past for a budget vote ... But this time his 'yes' comes with a price.

Senator Maldonado wants no pay for legislators, as long as the budget is late. He also wants open primaries that allow voters from other parties to select a nominee.

That's something Maldonado would benefit from if he ran for statewide office one day because he is too centrist to lock up the California Republican Party's endorsement.

But with budget negotiations stalled for 103 days, the state is about to go into insolvency.

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