California OKs Long-Delayed Budget
Dems make big last-minute concessions
By Ambreen Ali,  Newser User
Posted Feb 19, 2009 9:43 AM CST
US Sen. Barabara Boxer, right, gestures towards a "1" sign as she discusses the need of one Republican vote to pass a state budget plan in California.   (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
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(Newser) – The California Assembly quickly stamped its approval on a state budget passed by the Senate early this morning, ending a 3-month budget deadlock. The final Republican vote needed to pass the bill came with steep concessions, though billions of dollars in tax hikes and program cuts remain intact, the Los Angeles Times reports. In the final hours, Democrats cut a gas tax from the package and agreed to open primaries to voters of all parties.

Sen. Abel Maldonado, whose vote broke the deadlock, insisted on the change in election law in hopes of preventing future budget standoffs. Democrats have long resisted opening up primaries, a policy that lessens political parties' influence. The final bill, devised with the governor's aid, incorporates much of the original budget compromise struck by Democratic and Republican leaders.