Rep. Senators vote to oust minority leader

February 18, 2009 12:47:21 AM PST
California lawmakers spend another night at the capitol to find the last vote to pass the budget.

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In late night developments the Associated Press is reporting that Republican state senators were so upset that Minority Leader Senator Dave Cogdill (R) was agreeing to tax increases in the state budget proposal that they voted to remove him of his position. Now the Republican lawmakers are trying to figure out who will be the next minority leader.

Tuesday night, lawmakers were placed on building lockdown, meaning they cannot leave the Capitol.

They are still just one vote away from ending California's budget crisis, but that vote isn't coming easily. The Senate was supposed to reconvene at 10 p.m. Tuesday night, but both parties went into separate caucuses. Legislators are prepared to stay the night.

As of 11 p.m. both parties were still huddling and briefing themselves in back rooms. At one point Abel Maldonado (R) rushed down the hall to meet his party. His vote has been targeted as one that could end the stalemate. ABC7's Alan Wang asked him if there was any movement and he said they were moving in the right direction. Wang also asked if they were going to vote on the budget tonight and he said, "I don't think so."

Senator Leland Yee (D) from San Francisco told Wang they were going to take a vote anyway just to see where they were at, but was not very optimistic about the night's prospects.

Earlier in the evening, Karen Bass (D) Assembly Speaker seemed optimistic.

"There are two senators that are willing to step up and we're trying to negotiate terms right now. I'm hopeful that we will bring this to a close in the next 24 hours. You are probably aware that the assembly has all of our votes; we're really just waiting for the Senate. Three assembly members, Republicans, have stepped up and said they are willing to vote for a budget. It's absolutely critical we do this in the next 24 hours because tomorrow more than 200 transportation projects will be shut down," Assembly Speaker Karen Bass (D) said.

Earlier Tuesday evening State Senator Sam Aanestad, who is also an oral surgeon, passed out toothbrushes.

It looked like Senator Lou Correa, who brought a sleeping bag with him into the Sacramento Senate chambers, was going camping, expecting to be in lockdown for more than a day.

"Staying here locked up for 30 hours is not pretty; you've got to sleep in your suit," Correa said. "I didn't bring PJs, but I did bring a sleeping bag so I can lay it out in the hallway and sleep."

The State Senate is still searching for one last Republican vote. That is all it would take to pass a bi-partisan proposal that would fix the $42 billion deficit, but that includes higher taxes which goes against GOP philosophy.

In a ceremony honoring Captain Sully Sullenberger, the pilot who landed an airplane safely in the Hudson River, Gov. Schwarzenegger said the Capitol needs its own heroes -- ones that can pass a long overdue state budget.

"Those Legislators upstairs, negotiating and working on a budget, need a great hero in the Capitol, that should inspire all of the state Legislators, for them to be heroic today and pass this budget," Schwarzenegger said.

Tuesday, 20,000 layoff warning notices were sent out to state departments to be given to employees, warning them of pending layoffs. Law requires 120 days notice be given prior to layoffs going into effect.

Negotiations remain focused on trying to switch Republican Senators Maldonado and Dave Cox. Maldonado does not think it is heroic to buck his party and vote for higher taxes in this recession.

"I don't think so; at the end of the day, some people are going to lynch me, probably, nobody is ever going to be happy with that," Maldonado said.

But the state is on the brink of insolvency without a budget solution in place.

The Senate President does not want to go into lockdown as they go into their fourth night session, but he might order it if that last vote does not surface.

"It's not a matter of trying to punish people, we're all exhausted; I'm not into people suffering, but the people of California are suffering," Darrell Steinberg said.

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