Tuesday, February 17, 2009

California Dreamin'

Fella Californians, if you happen to be one of the 20,000 state employees whose jobs are on the chopping block because of the ongoing budget impasse, make sure you remember to thank Abel Maldonado, who is using this opportunity to stick it back to Schwarzenegger.

The plan's prospects all but died Sunday morning when Sen. Abel Maldonado, in an interview with the Mercury News, seemed to rule out voting for the measure while pointedly criticizing Schwarzenegger as well as the Republican Senate leader, Dave Cogdill, of Fresno. A moderate Republican whose district stretches from Silicon Valley to San Luis Obispo County, Maldonado was seen as the last best hope for the final GOP vote needed to get the deficit plan over the two-thirds hump.

"I've always been a person who's been open-minded and tried to bring both sides together," Maldonado said. "But on this one, where they're asking for almost $15 billion in tax increases, it just goes against what I believe in my heart and my values." Maldonado added, "There's nothing they can give me that would make me vote for this budget." The senator went on to question the leadership of Schwarzenegger and Cogdill.

Maldonado and Schwarzenegger have a tense relationship: In 2006, the senator publicly criticized the governor for not backing his unsuccessful campaign for state controller.

"Where was he when I needed him?" Maldonado said of Schwarzenegger on Sunday. As for Cogdill, who helped negotiate the budget plan, Maldonado said: "There's a difference between managing a caucus and leading a caucus."

It's funny. This whole thing is being held up by Schwarzenegger's own party; the Democrats are cooperating with him fully here. The GOP hasn't been much more than a running joke in this state since the days of Pete Wilson anyway, but they appear to have devolved even further as of late, to a running sore.

The budget definitely ain't pretty, and everyone will take a little somethin'-somethin' in the shorts. But it has to get done just to keep normal services, especially critical as the state is getting ready to release thousands of prisoners early. Insert a tax rollback contingent on return of revenues when property values start recouping, something along that line. To practically confess to stalling the process over a grudge, well, you just ended your own political career there, bub.

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