An agreement on solutions to the state's fiscal crisis is still not in place, but it now seems pretty clear that Governor Schwarzenegger will ultimately accept the most contentious, and possibly risky, part of the plan: a tax increase approved with only votes from legislative Democrats.
The governor all but put the issue to rest at a budget crisis photo op this afternoon here in Sacramento. Though he's been asked several times in the last week as to whether he'd support such a tax increase, he's always left his stance on the issue somewhat murky.
Consider it much less murky now, as I asked him today whether he would ever sign a tax increase that did not have approval of a two-thirds majority.
"In order to save California," said Schwarzenegger, "I am forced to go and just negotiate with the Democrats at this point, and then also resolve this issue just with the Democrats."
That's not necessarily a surprise, given that most sources say the negotiations at this point are largely about the depth and specificity of spending cuts; even the infrastructure issues -- which were the subject of the governor's event next to a threatened levee on the Sacramento River -- seem on the way to being resolved.
But assuming the deal is struck, the majority-only tax increase sets the stage for a certain legal challenge and... once again... a series of "Arnold vs. the GOP" stories. The governor himself added to that storyline today:
"This [tax proposal] is an issue that I was, a situation that I'm forced in because of a lack of participation by the Republicans."
On the subject of the legal challenge, Schwarzenegger simply said this about lawsuits: "Some you win, and some you lose."