There could be a possible break in budget talks. Senator Abel Maldonado (R) had lunch with Governor Schwarzenegger on Wednesday afternoon and asked for three things. He wanted the state to create an open primary system, prohibit legislative pay raises during deficit years, and if the state operates without a budget, lawmakers won't receive a paycheck. Those measures were being written on Wednesday evening. This ray of hope came in the nick of time because the current budget compromise was on the verge of collapsing.
An overnight coup that elevated staunch anti-tax conservative, Senator Dennis Hollingsworth (R), to Minority Leader threatens to undo the bi-partisan agreement that took more than three months to negotiate. Despite California facing insolvency, he and most Republican Senators demand the new taxes taken out of the proposal in favor of more budget cuts.
"It really shouldn't be that we go back to the people and say you've got to pay for the mess we've created by raising their taxes. $1,400 per family, that's just something in these economic times people can't afford," said State Senator Dennis Hollingsworth (R) the new minority leader.
"I will not open up negotiations on this budget," said Governor Schwarzenegger.
Governor Schwarzenegger came out swinging against members of his own party. The compromise he and legislative leaders hammered out last Friday is the budget he wants passed and it must include $14 billion in new taxes.
"If you think you can do this budget without any increases in revenues, then you have a big math problem because you can't erase a $42 billion deficit without revenue increases," said Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The Governor's gloves came off just hours after Republicans in the upper House ousted their leader, Senator Dave Cogdill -- an anti-tax conservative who helped negotiate the bi-partisan agreement.
"I don't believe it's possible to balance this budget without some revenue increases. Again, that's a hard thing for me to say, and it was a hard decision to reach," said St. Senator Dave Cogdill (R), the former minority leader.
With the Senate still one Republican vote short, arm-twisting remains focused on two possible swing votes: Abe Maldonado and Dave Cox. Senators cannot leave the building during lockdown, and the compromise will be put for a vote every hour until someone caves.
"One more! One more to put California and the people of California ahead of ideology and partisanship. We are not starting over!" said State Senator Darrell Steinberg (D) the Senate President.
U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer is trying to sway votes by warning the state stands to lose billions in federal stimulus money.
"There's no question in my mind that California is going to be disadvantaged enormously if they don't have a budget," says Senator Barbara Boxer (D) of California. Because Senator Maldonado is the closest to being that last Republican vote, Democrats are considering his offer. If they agree to some or all of his measures, then they would just be added to the current budget compromise.