Over at Capitol Alert, there is some speculation about when the Senate Republicans will transition from the leadership of Sen. Hollingsworth to Sen. Dutton. But in typical Republican style, they are using this to leverage additional concessions from the Democrats.
“If the Democrats drop their demands for unsustainable levels of spending and higher taxes, then it’ll mean we’re probably getting pretty close and there’s no reason why we couldn’t postpone the transition and finish it off,” Hollingsworth said. “But if they are not going to drop those demands for higher spending and higher taxes, it means we’re essentially at square one and there wouldn’t be any harm in Sen. Dutton taking over because there wouldn’t be very involved negotiations happening yet.”(SacBee)
Hey, Hollingsworth, if you all drop your demands of drowning the state government, then perhaps we’ll wrap this up quickly too.
The Kern County Taxpayers Association is pleased to endorse SCA 19 (Desaulnier) which embodies the non-partisan reform principles crafted by California Forward to overhaul our state’s budget process and empower local governments to work together and better plan for the future of the people they serve.
As one of the leading authorities on the state budget, you know how urgently we need this legislation to give California the modern tools it needs to make best use of taxpayer dollars, set firm priorities for programs and pass responsible budgets on time.
California Forward’s reform principles are based on proven practices that businesses and other states have used to improve decision-making, deliver better results and improve public confidence in their government.
Like most Californians, we are justly proud of our great state, a state that has always led the way, in technology, protecting the environment and providing our citizens with a quality of life that is second to none.
The fiscal crises we’ve faced in recent years have put California’s leadership in jeopardy. The status quo simply isn’t working. The California Forward plan offers a way to make real and lasting reform that will help restore our state to its leading role in the world and help Californians achieve and thrive in the global economy.
“Nothing in the California Forward plan makes it easier to raise taxes or fees. The plan keeps the two-thirds vote requirement to raise taxes, and prevents lawmakers from replacing a tax with a fee to dramatically increase revenue. There’s no doubt in my mind that if the California Forward plan had been in effect years ago, our state would be in far better financial shape,” said Tom McKernan, California Forward’s Republican co-chair.
“The California Forward plan would introduce a key reform to our budget process – performance-based budgeting. That means the Governor, the Legislature and every state agency would have to determine what taxpayers are getting for their money, and how they could do a better job. Many states and local governments have used this practice to balance their budgets and get better results. Why should California get left out?” said former State Senator Bruce McPherson (R-Monterey).
Sen. Bob Dutton, an ally of the right-wing Sen. Hollingsworth, has apparently secured the votes to become the next minority leader in the State Senate. From the FlashReport:
I just got off of the phone with State Senator Bob Dutton who confirmed for me that he will be the next Senate Republican Leader, having obtained the unanimous support of members the Senate Caucus.
While the details of the transition are not yet ironed out, our sources say that Dutton is not likely to take over the Senate GOP’s top spot at least until after the 2010-2011 budget is adopted this Summer.
Dutton, who hails from Rancho Cucamonga, has signed the no new taxes pledge and is pretty much as anti-government as you get.
Gov. Schwarzenegger’s previous career had him as a man of action, who blew stuff up first and asked questions later. He didn’t frequently negotiate detantes, save for settling a dispute or two in Kindergarten Cop. It’s Not a Tumor!
So, perhaps that’s why he isn’t really that good at actually doing the job of being the Governor. On occasion it is important that you actually have the ability to talk the parties back off the ledge. But as the Governor is usually the one playing the brinksman’s games, you can understand that negotiation isn’t a skill he’s refined too well.
And apparently Arnold was once again not up to the task yesterday as the Big 5 Meeting blew up when Sen. Hollingsworth brought out his ransom note.
A private meeting of legislative leaders and Gov. Schwarzenegger ended abruptly Tuesday amid bad blood between Senate Leader Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, and his GOP counterpart, Sen. Dennis Hollingsworth of Murrieta.
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Earlier, Hollingsworth said he would not put up votes for the bills until Democrats agreed to a list of demands that were laid out by Russell Lowery, Hollingsworth’s chief of staff, in an e-mail to senior Democratic staff on the morning of Sept. 11, the last day of the legislative session.
“Senator Hollingsworth and others were party to conversations where it was agreed that Ready Return and the homeowner’s tax credit issues would be completed before the end of session,” Lowery wrote in an e-mail to Steinberg’s senior staff on the morning of the final day of the legislative year. “It is my hope that we might get some movement early on these issues in order to avoid a train wreck on some important two-thirds legislation at the end of session.” Lowery also mentioned pending legislation providing home buyers with a tax credit.(CapWeekly 10/06/09)
Maybe he was just yelling at everybody to shut up, but he really should have learned his lesson on that particular method from the movies.
By the way, the words “Ready Return would be completed” doesn’t mean that this solid program would be permanently funded or otherwise enacted into law, nope, this meant that Ready Return would be killed so that Intuit could make a few more bucks off of poor people. Intuit’s role is California politics in the last few years has quite frankly, been disgusting. They have spread cash over politicians like Southern Pacific in the Hiram Johnson days, and held up the budget all to kill ReadyReturn, a program that would simplify tax returns for lower to middle class Californians with simple taxes. Of course, the hypocrisy of this coming from the Republicans, who claim to support tax simplification, would be funny had it not endangered the lives of many Californians. But I guess campaign cash is a more important value to these Republicans.
And Hollingsworth claimed to have had some agreement with Steinberg that these issues would be handled, a deal that Steinberg said never happen. Some would call that illegal vote trading. And, according to the article, apparently Speaker Bass suggested that his ransom note actually had nothing to do with the bills at issue.
Meanwhile, Arnold is still being Arnold, demanding a water deal by Friday or he’ll veto all the bills. The deadline for his veto is Sunday, or the bills will automatically become law.
In the upside-down world of the California budget mess, the Senate President Pro Tem is now criticizing Republicans for their refusal to vote for cuts.
Senate Leader Darrell Steinberg wants to put Republicans on record today on two political questions: whether they can accept $11.4 billion in cuts that Democrats are proposing, and whether they will vote on $2 billion in new taxes.
On taxes, Steinberg conceded he is unlikely to win a single Republican vote when the Senate takes up the Democrats’ $23.3 billion deficit reduction plan. But that, he said, shouldn’t stop them from supporting his package of cuts, which will be voted on separately.
“If they’re going to stand on the argument that cuts are not deep enough and thereby not vote for $11 billion in cuts, then we have some issues,” Steinberg said at a news briefing next to his Capitol office. “It’s interesting. I’m getting a sense that Republicans are getting shy about voting for cuts. That would be an odd headline: Democrats urging Republicans to vote for cuts.”
Actually, it’s not an odd headline. It’s the inevitable consequence of a broken political system where you need a simple majority to make cuts and a 2/3 majority to raise taxes. Period.
In this case, Steinberg can pass the whole budget, save $2 billion in oil and cigarette taxes, by majority vote, because this is not a budget enactment, but a revision. If he doesn’t muster 2/3 for the cuts, however, the revision will be delayed 90 days, reducing the effectiveness of the cuts by roughly 1/4, and forcing additional solutions to fill the deficit later. Even when mostly cuts are on the table, Republicans are using the leverage of undemocratic supermajorities to force more cuts.
Here’s Zed Hollingsworth playing dumb that all he wants is a comprehensive solution.
“We’re willing to vote for the cuts that provide for a complete solution,” said Republican leader Dennis Hollingsworth, R-Temecula. “We’re not willing to vote for a partial solution that has us coming back in the spring having to find more revenues when another calamity hits. We’re not interested in political gamesmanship.”
No, the Yacht Party would NEVER be interested in political gamesmanship, perish the thought. They’d never want to try to send the state into bankruptcy to make a political point or anything. By the way, Zed, news flash: you’ll be back in the spring. The projections from the Legislative Analyst have consistently fallen short of reality, and no matter how big a budget reserve gets baked into this new budget, you can bet dollars to donuts it won’t be enough, especially considering the potentially accelerated Depression that additional cuts to the social services net will force. The Anderson Forecast estimates 64,000 government jobs lost from this round of budget cuts. Even in Dan Walters’ world, that’s a significant chunk.
My problem with the Democrats on this is mainly their insistence on working within a broken system. They miss every opportunity to put the failed governmental structure on trial. Something as absurd as Republicans voting against program cuts – to ensure MORE program cuts – defies belief without an explanation of how it’s a symbol for a bad process that must be fixed. The goal of this budget, which was never going to be pretty regardless of the May 19 election, should have been to heighten that reality.
Ol’ “Zed” Hollingsworth, our awesome Senate Republican Leader has decided that the Big 5 process doesn’t much suit him. Now, I’m not sure what kind of game he’s running, but here it is:
“Look at all the problems when we’ve had with these midnight deals and early-morning votes,” said Hollingsworth. “We should have every decision be made through the normal constitutional processes.”(Riverside P-E 6/8/09)
Of all the messages from the special election, this is the one that is most clear: Californians showed disdain for the process. They showed disdain by voting at extremely low numbers and they showed disdain by voting against the measures. Nobody is really arguing this point.
Now, the difference is that Hollingsworth believes that there is no way tax increases will get through all that populist angst. That may or may not be true, but one thing that is clear is that the cuts aren’t making it through when out in the open.
In a quest for speed, the Big 5 trades transparency. We’ve been forced into it because of our consistent crisis mode. I’m not sure this week will be the one where we bust out into the sunlight, but it should be. The fact of the matter is that when it comes down to it, item after item, we should be getting the Republicans on record. Throw the whole thing open. Have a vote on eliminating CalWorks. Let’s vote on closing the state parks. Have a vote on massively cutting education. Everything. Let the record be made clear as to where our legislators stand on the issues that will shape California’s future.
At any rate, it is unclear what will be accomplished in the Big 5 from here on out. Cuts can be done outside of the traditional budget process, and without a 2/3 vote. The elephant in the room is the majority vote fee increases. If we are to increase the gas fee and shift general fund money around, we can, according to the legislative counsel, raise revenue. Tom Campbell, a Republican candidate for governor, has proposed a 32 cents per gallon fee temporary one year fee. It will be interesting to see whether Arnold takes Campbell, his former Director of Finance, up on the approach.
Yet, the Big 5 will still have some role in the next week or two as a budget deal is hammered out. There simply is no faster way to get to some sort of a deal. Now, if Hollingsworth gets his way, those deals will go through the budget committees. But, I don’t see why that would really be the end of the world.
When all else fails, perhaps good governance isn’t the worst place to start, despite any cynical goals Hollingsworth has in mind.
Ol’ Zed Hollingsworth has announced that “a majority” of his caucus opposes the deal, and he wants to reopen negotiations. From Cap Alert
Newly minted Senate GOP leader Dennis Hollingsworth said Wednesday morning that he opposes balancing the state’s books with any new taxes and that he would like to reopen budget talks.
The Murrieta Republican, whose caucus ousted ex-leader Dave Cogdill late last night, said his “hope is that this deal doesn’t make it through.”
“The vast majority of my caucus does not want to see a budget passed with a tax increase,” Hollingsworth said. “To the extent that that requires the budget negotiations to be reopened, then that may be necessary.” (SacBee 2/18/09
Both Schwarzenegger and Steinberg seem to be ignoring the Temecula Republican Minority Leader. I think what he doesn’t get is that second to last word. Minority. He is the Minority Leader, and the Democrats do not need him, or a majority of his caucus to get the package to the Governor’s desk.
With Cogdill and Ashburn still looking like they are set to vote, the final question is who is pissed off enough by Hollingsworth’s coup, Maldo or Cox, to vote for the budget. With the budget supposedly set for the next 17 months or so, the next time we’ll have to negotiate with Hollingsworth will be in 2010. By that point, hopefully there will be some sort of 2/3 elimination plan on the ballot, and Hollingsworth might be a little bit more amenable to reason. Perhaps…
Among their finds, to be formally announced today, is the nearly intact skeleton of a Columbian mammoth — named Zed by researchers — a prize discovery because only bits and pieces of mammoths had previously been found in the tar pits.
OK, Dennis Hollingsworth’s new name is Zed.
I was just on KPFA’s Morning Show with former Assemblyman John Laird, and we’ll have audio of that in a bit. But as we see the Yacht Party spiral ever more into neanderthalism, I want to make a couple points. First, Zed Hollingsworth is crazy but that’s a matter of degree. Dave Cogdill wasn’t exactly reasonable prior to becoming Minority Leader – I don’t think he had ever voted for a budget before. In the world of the Yacht Party, actually doing something to move the state forward is the highest treason.
Second, it’s truly amazing to witness the utter irrelevance of Arnold Schwarzenegger. Asm. Laird had the money quote today – “I never thought I’d be wishing for Pete Wilson again, but I am.” Pete Wilson was a lawmaker. He actually cultivated relationships with Republicans, and through carrots and sticks actually persuaded them. The Yacht Party has grown more entrenched over the years, but Arnold governs by magazine cover and doesn’t even really know who any of them are. He’s not even in the Capitol today – he went home to Brentwood last night. The failure of the chief executive to have any power within his own party is a major driver in this crisis. We don’t need an action hero, just someone who knows the least bit about government.
Short-term, we’re still in the same place. Darrell Steinberg is “making them filibuster,” keeping the Senate in the building overnight. The perpetual answer is that something will break in the next 24 hours. It’s a dispiriting choice between a bad deal and insolvency, but the latter is unthinkable. Your list of calls is short.
Senator Abel Maldanado (R-Monterey County, 916-651-4015)
Senator Dave Cox (R-Fair Oaks, 916-651-4001)
UPDATE by Brian: Audio of Dave’s appearance with John Laird on KPFA over the flip.