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Politics

Phil Matier: State’s Democrats Lose Supermajority But Keep Republicans On Sidelines

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A view of the California State Capitol in Sacramento, California. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

A view of the California State Capitol in Sacramento, California. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

PhilMatier01-370 Phil Matier
Whether it's politics, personalities or analysis Phil Matier is one ...
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SACRAMENTO (KCBS) — With two state senators taking leaves of absence, California Democrats have had to bid farewell to their prized supermajority in Sacramento. But what does that mean? Probably just business as usual.

State Sen. Ron Calderon (D-Montebello), who was indicted by the feds for bribery, has opted to take an indefinite leave of absence rather than be suspended. He’ll collect his $90,000 salary while he tries to organize his defense for a court case which is likely to drag out for a year or more.

Calderon will hold on to his seat in the meantime until the end of the year—when he would be out anyway.

The Democrats were hoping to keep Sen. Rod Wright (D-Inglewood), who was caught not living in his district, around until May, when the judge will make a final determination in that case. But the Republicans didn’t let that happen. He’s also taken a leave of absence and is collecting a paycheck until the end of his term.

So there ends the Democrats supermajority in the capitol.

Now while the press is trying to make something out of all this, the truth is that on the Senate floor it was never really “super” to begin with.

On any given day, there are splits with the moderate and super-liberal Democrats. The Republicans are still on the sidelines.

It’s now become difficult to get a majority because they’ve got 26 votes—they need 21 to even have a majority—and at any given time there are easily five senators at play whether it’s over politics, policy or the fact that they’re running for state-wide office with different groups competing for their attention and campaign money.

I think the big fights ahead are going to be over high-speed rail, specifically whether or not to use environmental money to fund Gov. Brown’s package. That will take some effort because, while it has the support of labor, it’s resisted by environmentalists.

Meanwhile, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) has put out the idea of making a deal in exchange for funding for universal pre-kindergarten program for 4-year-olds.

I think all of that is up in the air now because I’m unsure where the votes will come down if that happens.

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