LOS ANGELES (AP) — Democrats gained a two-thirds majority in the California Senate following Tuesday’s election, giving them the ability to pass tax increases and take other steps without the need for Republican votes.

It is the first time since 1965 that Democrats controlled a Senate supermajority, and the only time since California voters passed Proposition 13 in 1978, raising the legislative vote threshold to pass tax increases to two-thirds.

Democrats will control at least 27 seats in the 40-member Senate and are closing in on the two-thirds margin in the Assembly as well.

Not only did voters increase Democrats’ dominance control, they also approved Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown’s temporary tax increases with passage of Proposition 30. The combination is enough to reverse what have been constant cuts in services to stop budget bleeding and creates “an opportunity to begin a new and better California,” said Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento.

“Enough is enough,” Steinberg said in a telephone interview. “It’s time to start anew and to live within our means but at the same time invest in the cornerstones of our future of our economy, and that’s education.”

Senate Minority Leader Bob Huff, R-Diamond Bar, conceded that Democrats now will have total control in the Senate, but said that with that comes “tremendous responsibility” to govern wisely. He pledged to work with the majority to help create new jobs in California.

One race remained too close to call.

Termed-out Democratic Assemblywoman Cathleen Galgiani trailed Republican Assemblyman Bill Berryhill in the Central Valley’s 5th Senate District, which includes parts of Sacramento, San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties.

However, even if Berryhill wins, Democrats will have the 27 votes they need to approve tax increases, pass emergency legislation, override governors’ vetoes and change house rules while ignoring Republicans.

The last time either party gained a supermajority in either chamber was in the 1976 election, when Democrats won a two-thirds margin in the Assembly.

If Democrats win two-thirds majorities in both chambers, it would be the first time since 1933 that one party held simultaneous supermajorities.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.)


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