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Gridlock Knows No Boundaries in Sacramento

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Gridlock Knows No Boundaries in Sacramento

It's like the legislative process is like the traffic along a California highway at 5 p.m.

Traditionalists may define gridlock in Sacramento as a stalemate between the legislature's Democrats and Republicans, but it's just as often the case within the legislative parties.

The internal factionalism underscores the legislature's inability to produce public policies, particularly the budget, no doubt adding to the frustration of an angry electorate.

Case in point: the latest internal fracas lies within the Democratic party. For months, Democratic Governor Jerry Brown has been responding to the state's $26 billion deficit through a complex budget proposal consisting of cuts and temporary tax increases. For the most part Democrats have gone along with the governor, which has allowed Brown to point fingers at the Republicans as the recalcitrant party.

One part of the reduction side of the equation would eliminate local government redevelopment agencies, which would allow the state to redirect $2 billion to local governments for schools and other services and programs. Now, in the waning days of the budget debate, several Democrats have peeled off with a new bill to keep redevelopment agencies in place, albeit with minor modifications. That change might serve some cities well but it would further exacerbate the budget hole that Brown is trying to close.

It remains to be seen whether AB 1250, the bill in question, will actually pass. No doubt, Republicans would only be too happy to support a bill that many consider pro-business because of the nature of redevelopment agencies. If the bill does get to Brown's desk, however, he would be in the awkward position of either signing a budget-busting bill or taking on members of his own party.

Regardless, the effort by legislative Democrats to keep redevelopment agencies adds an unwanted wrinkle to the budget debate days before the budget is due. If nothing else, the budget battle has become more complicated and adds another challenge to the Brown agenda.

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