Democratic Senate Leader To Lawmakers: Bring Your Toothbrush

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(Sacramento, CA)
Monday, February 16, 2009

Lawmakers have spent three long days – and one long night – in session at the Capitol.  And Still – no budget agreement.  Late Monday night, Senate Leader Darrel Steinberg announced they would come back in the morning for a final push:

“And we will stay on this floor until we get it done.  Bring a toothbrush.  Bring whatever necessities you need to bring.”
The budget deal brokered by legislative leaders and the Governor – the so-called Big 5 - includes 15 billion in cuts, 14 billion in tax hikes and billions more in borrowing.   Republicans loathe raising taxes.  They say it would shatter the already stalled economy.  But Democrats say they can’t cut their way out of a 40 billion dollar deficit. The spending plan requires a two-thirds vote of the legislature to pass…which means all of the Democrats – and three Republicans in each house.  Leaders say they’ve secured all but one GOP vote in the Senate.  One of the men being heavily pressured to cast that final deciding vote is Abel Maldonado – a Central Coast Republican: 
Well, I have something to share to the people of this house here.  The votes aren’t there for the budget of the Big 5.  They’re not there.”

However, Maldonado has indicated in the past he’s at least considered voting for the package.  He wants lawmakers to include reforms such as an open primary, and a system where lawmakers don’t get paid if they don’t pass a budget on time.   Meantime, Senate Leader Steinberg is warning of what he calls “cataclysmic” events this week if lawmakers don’t pass a budget immediately.  The Governor’s office plans to send out layoff notices to 20-thousand state workers.  And funding is set to be yanked for hundreds more public works projects.