Wednesday, February 18, 2009

GOP Leader Ousted Over Tax Hikes; Still No State Budget Deal

From The Mercury News:

The Senate Republican leader who agreed to a budget deal with billions of dollars in tax increases was ousted by his GOP colleagues in a late-night coup early this morning, injecting another dose of uncertainty into the high-stakes battle over the state budget.

Around midnight, the Senate Republican caucus voted to boot Dave Cogdill of Fresno, one of the so-called "Big 5" leaders who reached a pact last week to close the state's staggering $40 billion deficit with a mix of steep tax hikes, spending cuts and borrowing.

Cogdill, who was chosen to lead the caucus last year in large part because of his conservative anti-tax credentials, angered his GOP colleagues last week when he brought them a budget package that included $14.3 billion in tax increases. The measure remains a single Republican vote in the Senate shy of approval.

"It's a shame it ended this way," the usually straight-faced Cogdill said with a hint of emotion after learning the news. "But we did what we thought was right. I love this state." Voted in as the new Republican leader was Dennis Hollingsworth, R-Murietta, who wasted no time emphasizing his opposition to higher taxes while criticizing the budget deal.

What effect Cogdill's ouster will have on the search for the final budget vote wasn't immediately clear. But it did not go unnoticed that the two Republicans targeted as the most likely possibilities for casting the decisive vote in favor of the deal — Abel Maldonado of San Luis Obispo and Dave Cox of Fair Oaks — opposed Cogdill's removal.

Blog Archive