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Republican Blackballed From Party Meetings

A veteran Republican senator has been barred from GOP caucus meetings in retaliation for casting the deciding vote for the state budget and $3.6 billion in taxes increases needed to balance it.

Senator Maurice Johannessen of Redding joined the Senate´s 26 Democrats on Saturday to approve the $99.1 billion budget and the tax bill by the bare two-thirds majority needed for approval.

Late Saturday night Johannessen´s GOP colleagues voted to bar him from their closed-door caucus meetings.

Senate Republican leader Jim Brulte says other Republicans felt Johannessen undercut the Republican negotiating effort on the budget.

But Johannessen says the other Republicans wanted him to try to negotiate a budget deal with Democrats so they would not be blamed for forcing additional budget cuts in popular programs.