The Swarm

Mix it up with The Bee's editorial board.

February 16, 2009
Senate recesses, back tomorrow at 10 a.m.
If you missed the debate on the Senate floor tonight (Channel 2 on Comcast), you missed some fine theater.

Republicans came out in force to remind Democrats that they have dissed the GOP for years, and are now paying the price for it. Lots of whining, etc. etc.

The most interesting and statesmanlike speeches came from Republicans Abel Maldonado and Dave Cox. They continue to say they are no votes for the budget package, even though they acknowledge considerable pressure to vote otherwise.

Maldonado took aim at Senate leader Darrell Steinberg's early promise of a "Budget of 40" -- meaning, 40 senators all working together to devise a budget. Instead, he and other legislators were frozen out of the Big Five meetings that were held behind closed doors.

"Maldo" -- as he is being called -- went public with his demand for an end to pay raises for legislators during budget impasses, and an end to pet spending projects for certain legislators. He didn't mention Lou Correa by name, but everyone knew who he was taking about.

For his part, Dave Cox accidentally sparked the floor debate by doing a procedural maneuver that allowed Dennis Hollingsworth to talk. That led to a fascinating outpour by several senators, ranging from Rod Wright (a Demo) to George Runner (a Rep.).

Cox, in his comments, didn't hold out much hope he would vote for the budget package, but he effectively dinged Steinberg for quietly pushing through SB 1, which would expand eligibility for kids in Medi-Cal.

In normal times, such a push by a Democratic senate leader would go unnoticed, but with the state facing budget crisis, Cox made his point very clear.

Steinberg was the last to speak. He acknowledged the points that Maldonado and Cox were making, and on the latter point, said that the SB 1 stuff had been shelved.

So Cox and Maldo seem to be in the driver's seat. We wait until 10 a.m tomorrow to see if they are driving the state in the right direction, or ,,,,right off the cliff.

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About The Swarm

The Swarm is written by members of The Sacramento Bee's editorial board. They meet daily and are separate from the newsroom. Views included here are those of individual writers, and do not necessarily reflect those of a majority of the board or the positions expressed in The Bee's editorials.

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