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The Assembly killed legislation Monday that would have encouraged the state to seek operating agreements with cities and counties in an attempt to keep the budget crisis from closing state parks.

Republican Assemblyman Kevin Jeffries characterized the 31-19 vote, 10 votes short of passage, as a "pure partisan drill" by Democrats against Republicans who seek budget solutions without tax hikes.

Jeffries, R-Lake Elsinore, said his Assembly Bill 64 initially proposed that the state parks department allow the city of Riverside to operate the California Citrus State Historic Park.

To win support from the Democrat-dominated Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee, Jeffries said he accepted amendments encouraging operating agreements to be sought from local governments statewide to minimize state park closures.

Jeffries said the bill was killed today because it was proposed by a Republican.

Democratic Assemblyman Jared Huffman of San Rafael, chairman of the parks and wildlife committee, received unanimous support by the panel for similar legislation encouraging cooperation with nonprofit groups to keep state parks open, Jeffries noted.

Forty-seven of 52 Democrats either opposed or abstained from voting Monday on Jeffries' AB 64, which was supported by Republicans.

""The best way to keep our parks open is to get a budget deal," said Assemblyman Bob Blumenfield, a Woodland Hills Democrat who chairs the Assembly Budget Committee.

Assemblyman Ben Hueso, D-San Diego, said he did not want to "whittle away at our opportunities to come to a consensus together" on state budget matters.

Hueso, through a spokeswoman, later said that his vote against AB 64 was motivated by a desire not to handle budget matters piecemeal -- not by any intent to punish Republicans.

Jeffries characterized the Democrats' message as "we either give them tax (increases) or they don't let stuff like this through that actually tries to help fix the budget problem.

"Nobody argued against the policy, this was a pure partisan drill to punish Republicans," Jeffries said.


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