After a more than five-month hiatus, California has a lieutenant governor again, but that may mean even more trouble than usual in getting a budget passed.
After dithering over the nomination for months, state lawmakers this week confirmed Republican Abel Maldonado as lieutenant governor. He will serve the remaining months of the term of the office’s former occupant, Democrat John Garamendi, who resigned in November after winning a seat in Congress.
Maldonado is also running for a full term as lieutenant governor in the June GOP primary.
Maldonado’s new job means he resigned his seat in the Senate. That could be a bad portent for the budget, because Maldonado played a pivotal role in the adoption of last year’s budget, and has always been seen as one of the few Republican senators willing even to consider voting for a budget. Though Democrats have a majority in both houses, some GOP votes are needed to secure the two-thirds vote needed to adopt a budget.
An argument over how to fill Maldonado’s seat may spark even more confusion and delay.
Democratic leaders were vexed because Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, called a special election for August. Democrats wanted the election consolidated with the November general election, because they believe that would improve their chances of picking up the seat.