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Lawmakers Nearly Come To Blows During Budget Debate

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SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – A joke that compared a proposed budget measure to a fictional mafia family nearly brought lawmakers to blows on the California Assembly floor Wednesday afternoon.

Assembly members Don Wagner (R-Irvine) and Warren Furutani (D-Gardena) were pulled away from each other by fellow lawmakers and Assembly sergeants-at-arms after irritation boiled over on the eve of the state budget deadline.

When Wagner addressed the floor a few minutes earlier, he blasted elements of the Democrat budget proposal dealing with redevelopment agencies as “fantasy” and likened the plan to an episode of “The Sopranos.”

Assemblymember Anthony Portantino (D-La Canada Flintridge) expressed offense at the comparison and demanded an apology on behalf of Italian-Americans.

Wagner responded by saying, “I will apologize to any Italian-Americans who are not in the mafia or engaged in insurance scams.”

Several lawmakers traded sharp words following the statement and Wagner stated that his “apology is sincere” but did not back off on his attack on plan, calling the proposal a “bait-and-switch.”

A few minutes later, Wager and Furutani stood face to face and appeared to be on the brink of a physical confrontation when other lawmakers managed to separate the two.

Democrats passed the bulk of their budget bills Wednesday without Republican support, beating a midnight deadline that would have stopped lawmakers’ paychecks for missing the deadline.

Democrats are still seeking Republican support for passing a series of tax extensions to ease severe budget cuts.

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