Politics & Government

California Legislature OKs budget plan

The state Legislature voted early Thursday to approve a massive budget package of tax increases, spending cuts and borrowing to close a $40 billion deficit after granting major concessions to one holdout Republican senator.

Lawmakers had been at a five-day impasse until Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and legislative leaders on Thursday agreed to give Sen. Abel Maldonado, R-Santa Maria, major changes he demanded in exchange for providing a crucial 27th vote for the state budget.

The votes came after what Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg said was, at 45 1/2 hours, the single longest Senate session in California history.

As part of Maldonado's agreement, lawmakers approved constitutional amendments establishing an open primary system and banning legislative pay increases during deficit years. But legislative leaders refused to grant him his proposal to eliminate legislative pay altogether when the budget is late.

Leaders also agreed to Maldonado's demand to eliminate the 12-cent additional gas tax, which was estimated to bring in $2.1 billion through June 2010. The money will be replaced with a 0.25 percent increase in the state income tax, federal stimulus dollars and more than $600 million in line-item vetoes.

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