The state is a month and half into its fiscal year without a budget and there are less than two weeks remaining in the 2009-2010 legislative session, so one would think there would be plenty for the Senate to do this week in Sacramento.
But today is listed as a "check-in" session, meaning that senators who are in town can check in at the desk so that they are eligible to collect their per-diem check for the day. The rest of the Senate, including Democratic and Republican staffs, has more pressing work to do on the Central Coast -- knocking on doors and making phone calls in a last-minute attempt to get their voters out for tomorrow's special election to fill the seat of Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado.
The race pits former Democratic Assemblyman John Laird of Santa Cruz against incumbent Republican Assemblyman Sam Blakeslee of San Luis Obispo. The outcome could be critical in determining whether a budget resolution can be reached any time soon. A final budget deal will require 27 votes. Democrats now have 25 seats, although two members have medical issues and are limited to infrequent appearances on the Senate floor. One of the few potential Republican votes, Sen. Dave Cox of Sacramento, died last month. Democratic leaders, although they face long odds, are hoping against hope that Laird can pull off an upset and provide their 26th vote.