Last week, California lawmakers took hundreds of votes ahead of a key bill deadline. This week, they face one major vote – a budget vote, expected on Wednesday. But lawmakers may be more interested in redistricting maps due out Friday.
Barring a handshake deal, Senate Leader Darrell Steinberg insists he’ll put the budget up for a vote on Wednesday.
Steinberg says, “it’s getting very close to the time that we call the question and do everything we can to fund public education and public safety.”
But many observers believe lawmakers won’t even think about approving a budget deal until Friday. That’s when the state’s Citizens Redistricting Commission will release its preliminary maps of new Senate and Assembly districts.
Democratic Assemblyman Bill Monning says he expects the maps will have some influence. “Maybe I’m too much of a purist – I think we take an oath of office, we should be voting on what’s in front of us and what’s best for the people of the state of California,” said Monning. “That said, all of us are certainly curious to see what the Assembly lines will look like; what the Senate lines will look like.”
Tea Party Republican Tim Donnelly puts it a bit more bluntly, saying, “I think politicians are always licking their finger and testing the wind.”
Tony Quinn co-edits the California Target Book, a non-partisan analysis of legislative and congressional elections. He says, “I do think they will spend a lot of time looking at their new districts.”
Having examined the early version of the commission’s maps, Quinn says, “there are going to be legislators in both parties who now currently have relatively safe gerrymandered districts who are not going to be safe. And it’s not going to be an easy vote for Republicans or for Democrats.”
Quinn doesn’t expect a final budget vote until after the maps are out – so Wednesday’s vote may be nothing more than a drill.