So there is going to be a reconvening of the State Senate today at 10am. I know, that's what they said yesterday. But the plan from Sen. Steinberg is to keep the Senate on the floor until 27 members vote for passage and the crisis is (temporarily) averted. Meanwhile, 20,000 layoff notices and the closure of $3.8 billion in state public works projects will take place today. Things like projects to eliminate arsenic in Live Oak in the Central Valley. You know, dispensable things. And the Times has a bead on the three Assembly members who plan to vote in favor - Roger Niello, Anthony Adams and Minority Leader Mike Villines. This is a representative sample of the countervailing forces that Yacht Party members have to deal with.
Adams, a bearded 37-year-old who was elected in 2006 after working for San Bernardino County as its legislative liaison to Sacramento and Washington, has said he would provide the Assembly's third GOP vote.
"It's unconscionable that we let this state go over the cliff," Adams said in an interview. "My job is to get the best possible deal for Republicans."
Adams faces reelection next year, and his support for the budget package has antitax advocates interested in lining up a challenger in the GOP primary. And because he represents a swing district, Adams must also worry about a general-election challenge from a Democrat.Adams said he had not asked for specific concessions for his vote, or for assurances that he would get assistance to fend off election challenges.
"I'm not trying to find some soft landing," he said, "although my wife is going to kill me if she hears that."
They are not rewarded for their vote, and they fear their own "head on a stick" party members more than the opposition. And so you get this gridlock.
It occurs to me that what Steinberg is doing is what progressives have asked Harry Reid to do in the US Senate for years now. When GOP obstructionists threaten to filibuster key legislation, we always say "Make them filibuster! Make them stand up in the well of the Senate and talk endlessly about how we can't afford to provide health care for children, or how we have to offer more tax cuts to the wealthiest 1%. Let the whole country see it!" Well, we're basically doing that. The 15 members of the Yacht Party caucus in the Senate will be locked down and forced to reiterate their arguments indefinitely.
Problem is, the whole country won't be seeing it, the whole state won't be seeing it, in fact almost nobody will be seeing it. This is the true failure of a lack of political awareness in California, and a lack of political media. The pressure points are nearly impossible to hit. A lot of lawmakers will get tired and need to "bring your toothbrush," as Steinberg said, but there's precious little drama outside of Sacramento. And yet the decisions made in that chamber will undoubtedly impact the entire national economy, not just us.
But that is also good, in a sense, because it means that a sliver of opinion makers descending on the phone lines of the legislature can seen like an army. I'm going to reprint the email alert that Brian sent out last night, which you may have received, because I think he captured the situation perfectly. The leadership is making them filibuster. Now it's up to us to put on the pressure.
If you have been watching Calitics or the news this week, you've heard about the budget debacle going on in Sacramento. For the last three days, we have remained one vote short of the required two-thirds majority for a budget deal, with only two Republicans being willing to join the Democratic caucus in the Senate. You can follow our coverage of the Budget here:
To be blunt, the budget deal on the table is a mess. It consists of over twenty bills in each chamber. It guts environmental protections on several major projects, it offers gifts to corporations and a few powerful industries. It relies on cuts and borrowing far too heavily, and does not provide the real long-term fixes of our revenue stream that we so desperately need. And the spending cap that will go to the ballot in the spring represents a major step backward, and progressives will have to expend substantial resources to defeat it. Yet despite all that, only one thing is really clear:
If we do nothing, the state faces systemic collapse.
Because Republicans refused for years to look at new revenues to balance the state's budget, California is being hit harder by the economic crisis than any other state. We face a $40 billion deficit, and already the state is running out of money. Schools are looking at cutting classes and laying off teachers. Tomorrow, if there is no budget, 276 infrastructure projects will be halted - affecting 38,000 workers in the state, and the governor has announced that he will issue layoff notices to 20,000 state workers. And the state's credit rating, already low, will suffer further downgrades, effectively costing taxpayers more money.
The media has now taken notice that the Republicans are trying to bring the state down with them. But the media has little power if we aren't watching and if our leaders don't know we are watching them. So, here is what we need to do:
Call Senator Abel Maldanado (R-Monterey County, 916-651-4015) and tell him to give up his list of demands and end this hostage situation.
Call Senator Dave Cox (R-Fair Oaks, 916-651-4001) and tell him that the state deserves better than a Senator who goes back on a deal when threatened by his own party's extremists.
Tell as many people to do the same thing. Use every tool at your disposal, Twitter, facebook, or just word of mouth. The more people that know about this Republican extremism threatening our state, the better.
The Senate is set to once again resume session, and we might be in for another all-nighter. However, keep at it, because this is simply too important to let Republicans play their dangerous games with the lives of Californians.