California's budget mess got messier Thursday as Democratic legislators approved a package of tax increases and spending cuts, Republican legislators threatened to sue over the package's questionable constitutionality and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger made the issue moot by promising to veto it.

Democratic legislative leaders then announced lawmakers are going home for the holidays. That announcement came at the end of a day filled with heated rhetoric, impromptu news conferences and a good deal of waiting around.

The $18 billion Democratic proposal approved without Republican votes calls for increases in personal income and sales taxes, the substitution of a 39-cents-per-gallon fee on gasoline in place of the current 26 cents in state taxes, and a new tax on oil production. It also makes cuts in education, social services and other state programs and slices $657 million from the state's payroll.

Republicans claimed the Democratic package was illegal because it raised $9.3 billion in taxes without a two-thirds vote. But Schwarzenegger did not criticize that approach.


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