Politics & Government

California budget deal may hinge on 3 GOP amendments

In what could be a break in state budget talks, legislative Democrats are contemplating a firm offer - approval of three constitutional amendments - from Republican Sen. Abel Maldonado as a means to closing the state's $40 billion budget shortfall.

Maldonado, R-Santa Maria, could provide the crucial 27th vote necessary to pass a budget package that has been stalled since Saturday. In a lunch meeting at Spataro with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Maldonado asked for ballot measures to create an open primary system, prohibit legislative pay raises in deficit years and stop legislators from receiving salaries if they do not pass a budget on time.

Maldonado said in a brief interview Wednesday that there was "a good chance" for a budget vote tonight and that he wants all three of the reforms he has put forth to secure his budget vote.

Asked if he would settle for one or two, he said, "I'm asking for all three," before rushing into a meeting with Assembly GOP leader Mike Villines. "We're very close on the details and I just want to leave it at that."

Measures containing those three constitutional amendments are being drafted today. Maldonado spokeswoman Brooke Armour said constitutional lawyers are reviewing the three measures.

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, called the ban on raises "doable" on Monday, yet expressed reservations about rushing an open primary plan to the ballot as part of the current budget package. But his caucus is now considering whether it can accept any or all of Maldonado's proposals.

Read more at SacBee.com

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