Cheaper with this dozen

Just when it looked like the giddy amusement of the budget stalemate would never end, we’re dismayed that a bipartisan group of 12 legislators is trying to halt the fun.

As Capitol watchers recall, legislators came back in December with much fanfare to convene a very special session dedicated to rolling up their sleeves on the budget mess. Thankfully, they found a way to gavel the session open and shut without doing anything. They kept procrastinating into January, February and now March.

The bad news broke on February 21 that a bipartisan group of Assembly members was meeting secretly behind closed doors to actually cooperate on bridging the gap. The group’s two ringleaders—Joe Canciamilla, D-Pittsburg, and Keith Richman, R-Northridge—went public three days later.

Canciamilla, however misguided, should get credit for a gem of a quote in the press release: “Like carpenters at the Winchester Mystery House, we have 120 legislators adding more rooms, dormers and gables when the foundation is crumbling.”

The release was accompanied by a copy of their letter urging Assembly Speaker Herb Wesson and Minority Leader Dave Cox to stop acting like babies and craft a bipartisan solution. The nerve of these upstarts.

“The session started 83 days ago, and we haven’t really done anything, when we know we have one of the greatest fiscal crises,” co-conspirator Tom Harman, R-Huntington Beach, told a reporter.

How these rebels got so turned around we’ll never know. On the other hand, there are a few players who deserve recognition for their efforts to prolong the stalemated trench warfare.

Especially deserving of kudos are Republican lawmakers, who swear to derail anything that even smells like new taxes. While other Republicans in state houses and governors’ mansions across the land are pushing tax hikes to cover painful deficits, Californians should rejoice that their own GOP types won’t give in to that kind of peer pressure.

That said, we wouldn’t want to neglect those heroic donkeys across the aisle, whose steadfast leadership has blocked any meaningful cuts.

Meanwhile, Governor Gray Davis hasn’t really done anything to break the deadlock except to hide in his office and promise to veto the plan on his desk that’s linked to hiking the car tax. It would be nice if he could actually do less, but we’ll take what we get.

This year’s crop of leaders is especially dedicated to running out the clock. Term limits have brought in newbies who don’t know the process. And redistricting created safe seats that made legislators more partisan—and more likely to sit pouting in the corner and vowing never to talk about anything they don’t like.

Sadly, members of this splinter faction want to end the logjam that dedicated partisans worked so hard to create.

Because all of them deserve scorn for trying to spoil the stalemate, we’re outing them all by name. In addition to Canciamilla, Richman and Harman, they are: Patricia Bates, R-Laguna Niguel; Patti Berg, D-Eureka; Lou Correa, D-Anaheim; Lynn Daucher, R-Brea; John Dutra, D-Fremont; Alan Lowenthal, D-Long Beach; Gloria Negrete McLeod, D-Chino; Robert Pacheco, R-Walnut; and Lois Wolk, D-Davis.

We wish them luck in changing the Capitol culture.