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Hollingsworth named new Republican leader of Senate

Late Tuesday evening (February 17), California State Senate Republicans, unhappy with the higher taxes that leader Dave Cogdill (R-Modesto) had agreed upon with Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Democrat legislators to close a $41+ billion gap in the state budget, ousted Cogdill and replaced him with fiscally conservative Senator Dennis Hollingsworth (R-Murrieta). Hollingsworth’s 36th District includes portions of Riverside and San Diego counties, including the Fallbrook area.

“I am humbled and honored to have been chosen by my caucus to serve as their Leader,” Hollingsworth told the Village News on Wednesday morning. “I also want to recognize the leadership of Senator Cogdill and thank him for his dedicated service. I look forward to the work ahead, representing the views of my caucus as we address this fiscal crisis to the benefit of all Californians.”

GOP senators appointed Hollingsworth by way of a vote in a private caucus meeting about 11 p.m. that night. Hollingsworth, frequently called the ‘man the liberals fear most’ has a significant history as a champion for California’s hard-pressed taxpayers and is vocal about the need to eliminate government inefficiency, mismanagement and wasteful spending.

“Tonight, our Caucus has chosen to move forward with budget negotiations with new leadership in place,” Cogdill said. “I will work toward a smooth transition as Senator Dennis Hollingsworth assumes the duties as the new Senate Republican Leader.”

Immediately following the appointment of Hollingsworth, Republicans voted down a proposed $14.4 billion tax hike that the governor and Democrat lawmakers were supporting. Democrats have proposed tax increases including: 12-cents per gallon in additional gasoline taxes, increases in Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) fees, a one percent increase in the state sales tax, and increases in personal income tax, along with some cuts in spending.

Senate Republicans are rejecting tax increases and favoring spending cuts to balance the budget.

“We need to stop treating the taxpayers across California like a personal ATM,” Senator Tony Strickland (R-Thousand Oaks) said.

“This is a balanced package,” argued Senator Denise Moreno Ducheny (D-San Diego). “It asks everybody to pay a little bit more in a variety of ways.”

Due to the inability at the state level to reach a budget compromise, this week officials issued notices to 20,000 state employees notifying them that they could lose their jobs within four months.

Dennis Hollingsworth was elected to the California State Senate in November of 2002, after serving one term as the Assemblyman for the 66th District. He is also chairman of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the largest national organization of conservative state lawmakers; and former legislative director for the Riverside County Farm Bureau.

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