Wednesday, February 18, 2009

CA Repubs toss leader over budget accord


SACRAMENTO — 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.