James Rufus Koren, Staff Writer
Created: 06/08/2011 05:19:07 PM PDT

California’s state Assembly, Senate and congressional districts likely will change dramatically later this year. And on Friday, lawmakers will get at least an idea of what that changes might be.

But while some analysts have suggested that new political districts – or just the idea of them – could make it easier for some Republicans to break party ranks and vote to approve Gov. Jerry Brown’s state budget plan, local lawmakers say the preliminary maps to be released Friday won’t make a difference.

“I can’t imagine anyone looking at the maps and coming to the conclusion they have to vote to pile more burden on the taxpayers,” said Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, R-Hesperia. “I just don’t see it.”

Assemblywoman Norma Torres, D-Chino, said the same: “I don’t think it changes the picture for budget votes. Those votes are driven by a radio show,” she said, referring to the conservative John and Ken show on KFI-AM.

Current district lines were drawn in ways that protected political parties by making some districts reliably Republican and others reliably Democratic.

Political observers say that has led to a state Legislature full of liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans, with few lawmakers willing to find middle ground.

If new districts were more balanced – even in a few cases – and lawmakers saw they might be better off taking more moderate stances, it could break the budget logjam in Sacramento.

But the maps that will be released Friday by the Citizens Redistricting Commission – a bipartisan group tasked with redrawing California’s legislative districts – are only preliminary. And politicians and political experts say that’s not enough to sway votes.

“I don’t know if that would provide the incentive to flip,” said Assemblyman Paul Cook, R-Yucaipa. “If that’s your line of reasoning, it really does make you look like a sleazy politician. I don’t think it will have any impact at all.”

Jack Pitney, a political science professor at Claremont McKenna College, said even with new district boundaries, Republican lawmakers likely don’t see any upside to voting for Brown’s budget plan, which calls for extending current tax rates that are set to go down in July.

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