State Sen. Abel Maldonado (L) (R-Santa Maria) jokes with Sen. Roy Ashburn (R-Bakersfield). Senate leaders were able to secure the final vote needed from Maldonado, a moderate, by agreeing to his demands for election changes, government reform and removal of a gas tax increase, giving them the two-thirds vote needed to pass the package.
Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Morain digs up a bit of possible budget good news in his Sunday column. State Sen. Roy Ashburn, a Central Valley Republican who is on his way out of the legislature, tells Morain that he sees potential in the Democratic legislative leaders' tax swap proposal. That proposal would increase income taxes and the vehicle license fee and cut the sales tax rate.
Ashburn doesn't like the proposal as is -- he suggests an even more dramatic cut in the sales tax rate than the Democrats want. And Ashburn is in, to be charitable, a weak political position, for these reasons.
But any talk of buget compromise -- and any willingness by a Republican legislator to talk taxes -- qualifies as news these days.