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Election will decide if Democrats get supermajority in state Senate

November 6, 2012 |  7:45 am

One story line playing out in today’s election is whether California voters will give Democrats their first two-thirds majority in the Senate in four decades.

Democrats need to pick up just two seats to have the supermajority needed in the Senate to raise taxes and overturn vetoes, although they would also need that vote in the Assembly, which is not as likely this year. Having one party achieve a supermajority has pros and cons, according to Derek Cressman, regional director of Common Cause, a nonpartisan open-government advocacy group.

"The upside is that voters would know who they could hold accountable as Democrats could no longer blame Republicans for obstructing them around revenue measures," Cressman said.  And the downside? "Legislators can overreach, or begin to feel entrenched, when they hold a supermajority."

Citing some of those fears, Senate Republican Leader Robert Huff of Diamond Bar has campaigned for GOP candidates. "The power would be given to the very same people who have fought for higher sales taxes, income taxes, gas taxes, soda taxes, diaper taxe, and finding new ways to let convicted criminals out of jail early,’’ Huff said.

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) sees benefits for the state if a supermajority is achieved. "With a working two-thirds majority, the Senate can move California forward without running headlong into a recalcitrant minority party who place ideology above balanced solutions that spur job growth,’’ Steinberg said.


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Photo: A voter casts her ballot in the California primary in June. Credit: Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press