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Dem. Lawmakers Promise Budget Vote Before Christmas

A budget vote before Christmas…. That's what state Democratic legislative leaders promised Thursday as they emerged from a meeting with Governor Schwarzenegger. The Governor's office has confirmed that the state's budget deficit now tops 41-billion dollars over the next year-and-a-half.  It's nearly fifteen billion in the current fiscal year alone.   Democratic Assembly Speaker Karen Bass says she's not ruling out the possibility of a lockdown in the Assembly chamber to get the Republican votes necessary for a plan.

Bass: What we hope to do is have a deal with our Republican colleagues. You know where we need them to go and if they don't go there then we will do whatever we need to do to get these votes with or without them.

A major sticking point is tax increases. GOP lawmakers have long opposed them. And Senate Republican Leader Dave Cogdill says now is definitely not the time.

Cogdill: We all know how difficult the economy is right now and we believe, Republicans believe we have to take that into consideration.

Cogdill also criticized the so-called "Big Five" process that involves meetings among the top legislative leaders and the Governor. He characterized them as quote "full of leaks". He said instead a deal should be worked out among the four top lawmakers. 

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