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Dems: GOP holding Calif. budget hostage

June 18, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Bans on the dirtiest diesel engines from California highways, curbs on greenhouse gas emissions to ease global warning, and regulations dictating when employers must give lunch breaks for workers -- Republicans have made it clear easing those environmental and labor laws would make them more receptive to a budget compromise. Otherwise, they'll be cranky.

"If that means we will be here to November, we will be here to November," said state Senator George Runner, R-Lancaster.

"This is not going to happen. Not on my watch," said Assembly Speaker Karen Bass, D-Los Angeles.

Democrats said it's not fair to inject issues that have nothing to do with the budget into the discussions.

"Holding up the people who depend on the California budget is unconscionable," said Bass.

And so the posturing begins. The budget is one of the few places where Republican votes actually carry some weight, because two-thirds of lawmakers are needed to pass one. In recent years they've been using that power as leverage to try and gain ground on issues dear to the GOP.

"It is wrong for the Republicans to be holding the budget hostage," said Bill Magavern from the California Sierra Club.

Republicans insists the environmental and labor rollbacks will stimulate the economy by allowing companies to spend money on job creation, instead of regulations. That will, in turn, put money into state coffers.

The Democrats say raising taxes will accomplish the same.

"The problem is Californians don't want a tax increase. So we are willing to represent California here," said Runner.

"They are suggesting we move backwards. The protections and policies in place now is a step forward. We are not willing to move backwards," said Bass.

Can you say, "Long, hot summer?" Without a budget in place, things like schools, social programs and roads don't get funded.

Only Rhode Island, Arkansas and California require a two-thirds vote to pass a budget.


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