State Budget Stalls

For the past few days OC Senator Lou Correa has been the center of attention in the legislative challenge of resolving the state budget crisis. After securing $35 million in additional property tax revenues in the coming fiscal year; $35 million in the 2010-11 fiscal year, and up to $50 million annually after that, Correa appears to be ready to vote for the plan.

What appeared to be a routine budget vote stalled in the early morning hours on February 15th. All had been assured that Republicans were prepared to post the needed votes to garner the 2/3 necessary for passage. The $42 billion proposal was sailing through the Legislature with minimal discussion or debate. In the Assembly, despite Chuck DeVore’s hissy-fit and resignation as Minority Whip, they have pretty much finished their business and are waiting for passage of the tax-hike package, but the 3 needed Republican lawmakers in that house are unwilling to support the plan without assured passage in the Senate.

Senator Dave CoxIn the Senate, one of the three Republian lawmakers thought to be one of the three needed Republican votes, Senator Dave Cox, appears to have changed his mind at the last minute. Senator Cox, Senate Minority Leader Dave Cogdill and Senator Roy Ashburn were viewed as as the three Republican votes in the Senate.   

Since his refusal to vote on the plan,  the Governor and Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, have had several private meetings with the Senator in an attempt to sway him. At this point, they have been unsuccessful. The leaders are now also working on trying to convince GOP Senator Abel Maldonado to change his mind and deliver the third needed vote. The Sacramento Bee’s Dan Smith reports that hours after he told the San Jose Mercury News, “There’s nothing they can give me that would make me vote for this budget,” Maldonado said he was open to the idea if the roughly $15 billion tax increase package can be massaged to his liking.

Floor sessions remain in effect in both houses, though senators were allowed to retreat to their personal offices. It is our understanding nobody will be allowed to go home until this budget is passed – they are locked down until a third Republican vote in the Senate can be found.