GOP lawmakers stand firm in opposition
James Rufus Koren, Staff Writer
Created: 03/15/2011 05:02:04 PM PDT

State lawmakers will vote on a budget package today, though legislators of both parties agree it won’t pass.

Republicans say it’s a drill, an exercise aimed to pressure them or make them look like they’re holding up the process.

“There’s no deals here,” said Assemblyman Curt Hagman, R-Chino Hills.

But Democrats say they aren’t expecting any Republican votes and that it’s time to put lawmakers on the record.

“We have to vote on the budget in order to try to get this budget on the ballot,” said state Sen. Gloria Negrete McLeod, D-Montclair, referring to part of the budget proposal that calls for a special election on tax extensions. “Everybody here got elected to govern. It’s part of (Republicans’) responsibility to vote.”

The budget plan that will go before lawmakers this afternoon – both the Assembly and state Senate votes are scheduled for 1 p.m. and will likely take place sometime in the mid afternoon – calls for $12.6 billion in cuts and funding shifts as well as more than $11 billion in taxes that would require approval from voters.

Though most parts of the budget plan could pass with a simple majority vote, the budget bills up for a vote today will ask for a two-thirds majority – the margin needed to put the tax measure on a special election ballot.

Assemblywoman Norma Torres, D-Chino, said leaders are asking for a two-thirds vote on all bills because bills approved by the wider margin can go into effect immediately, meaning the plan’s spending cuts could start saving money for the state right away.

But Torres, like Negrete McLeod, also said it’s important to put the budget to a vote and see where Republicans stand.

“We want to give them the opportunity to really look at it and vote,” she said. “If they’re on the line on something, let’s talk about it.”

Local Republicans say they won’t be voting for the budget, which will come in the form of about 16 bills.

“Our guys are going to say no because it’s a budget predicated on tax increases,” said state Sen. Bob Huff, R-Walnut, who represents the Chino area. “Democrats are putting up a tax vote to continue to feed the beast of government without doing anything to pare down the size of the beast.”

Torres, though, said Democrats have called for deep cuts in programs they have long supported and that Republicans are demanding too much. A group of Republican senators negotiating with Brown over the past few weeks reportedly asked for pension reforms, a spending cap and other reforms.

“I think the blackmail, the demands need to stop,” Torres said. In 2009, Republican lawmakers “wanted open primaries and they got open primaries. This year, they want cuts. But they’re getting $12 billion worth of cuts. That’s halfway.”

Huff and other Republicans, though, have said the budget calls for more like $8 billion in cuts, relying on taking money from special funds, redevelopment agencies and other sources to get up to $12 billion.

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