Diary

***BREAKING: California Legislators Held Hostage in Sacramento***

I thought that President Obama made clear that when we take prisoners, the United States must adhere to the guidelines in the Army Field Manual? Apparently when prisoners are taken for the cause of bigger government, officials sometimes have to resort to tougher measures.

On a more serious note, are the Governor and the California Legislature so desperate for tax increases that they have to hold legislators hostage to get them passed?

Despite a long night of frantic negotiations, legislative leaders are still struggling to find enough Republican votes to pass a bill that would close California’s $42 billion budget gap and end 102 days of partisan gridlock.

Only a single Republican, Senate Minority Leader Dave Cogdill, voted for the budget bill when it came up in the Senate Saturday evening, while state Sen. Roy Ashburn, R-Bakersfield, did not vote. Senate leaders left the bill open for possible vote changes, but it will only pass if Cogdill can somehow find two more GOP votes.

Thoughout the night, Cogdill, state Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger cajoled reluctant Republicans, trying to convince them to provide those final needed votes, but to no avail. But Steinberg and Assembly Speaker Karen Bass, D-Baldwin Vista (Los Angeles County), refused to give up and already have kept the Legislature in session more than 16 hours, with legislators ordered to stay in the Capitol building…

While both Republicans and Democrats in the Legislature recognized how desperate the state’s financial situation had become, Republicans have been unwilling to agree to tax increases, while Democrats have not wanted to support the cuts and economic stimulus package called for by Schwarzenegger…

The package the Legislature voted on Saturday was designed to solve the state’s deficit through June 2010. It contains $41 billion in budget adjustments: $14.4 billion in taxes, $15.1 billion in spending cuts and $11.4 billion in borrowing. But state officials are also hoping that the federal stimulus package will help them avoid some of the borrowing, increase cash reserves and even ease some cuts and taxes.

No one will be surprised to learn that the California budget has done nothing but increase annually for years. Faced with a bill that includes sales tax increases, income tax increases, gas tax increases, vehicle licensing fee increases, and other new and increased taxes, Republicans have balked. But in an effort to force them through, the California Assembly Speaker kept lawmakers locked in the Assembly chamber for upwards of 16 hours. Now she has relented and allowed them to roam the Capitol building — but not to go any farther.

I offer my thanks and congratulations to the Republican lawmakers holding the line against even bigger and more wasteful government. If you reside in California, you might want to call your Senator or Assembly(wo)man and tell them to hold the line against higher taxes.

And a message to Governor Schwarzenegger, who is ‘threatening’ to fire 10,000 state employees: the verb you are looking for is to promise. Democrats threaten to fire state employees.