When Assemblyman Anthony Adams was running for the 59th district seat in 2006, he drew attention to his anti-tax stance by handing out dollar bills at the gas pump as a one-man gas tax repeal.

Today, his stance on taxes is getting him attention once more. Adams has come under fire for being one of six Republicans voting in favor of a new 1 percent use and sales tax that terminates, or "sunsets," in 18 months.

"I still hate taxes," Adams said Thursday. "We were facing a short-term crisis that can't be fixed any other way."

The budget crisis

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the compromise budget bill on February 19, signing into a law a 2008-2009 budget that was eight months late. (The budget was legally due by June 15, 2008.)

While the legislature argued, California was running out of money. In addition to the state emptying its checking account, its credit cards were going to be cut up as well. When the state went to banks to try and get credit, Adams said, bankers for the first time ever told them no.

"They cut us off and said 'that's it,'" he said. "They wanted to see a budget that actually worked."

Among the bills California wasn't paying were the payments to all of the private businesses that do contract work for the state.

"These are the small businesses Republicans love so much," Adams said. "They're going bankrupt because we can't pay our bills to them."

Adams' decision and the HUSD

In January, Adams asked to visit with Hesperia Unified School District officials, to help him understand how the state's budget crisis affected the district, the Victor Valley's largest employer.

"Away from all the rhetoric, what does it actually mean?" Adams said.

"We talked specifically about the [effect of the] deferment of the appropriations on us, and we talked about the overall impact of the layoffs to the community," said Assistant Superintendent of Business Services David McLaughlin. "Every minute they waited, the deficit and the potential cuts to the district got worse. Therefore the waiting could have increased the potential layoffs."

(On Monday, the school board voted to lay off 198 employees due to declines in state revenue and declining enrollment and more layoffs are likely.)

In the budget Adams eventually voted for, Republicans won a key concession on education spending. Previously, much of the money given by the state to school districts was categorical spending that can only be spent in certain areas -- school construction funds can't be used to pay for salaries, and monies for infrastructure can't be used to pay for school books. Now, half of categorical funds can be spent the way local school districts prefer, rather than what legislators in Sacramento think they should be spent on.

Concessions to the Republicans

The Democrats in the legislature had to get at least a few Republican votes to reach the two-thirds "supermajority" required to pass the budget, and Adams said his colleagues wrung concessions out of Democrats.

"We fought to get 20 major reforms," Adams said. "We got those. Schwarzenegger didn't care about all those things."

Among the reforms were $15.6 billion in budget cuts, no cost of living increases for state employees (including school district employees), elimination of two state holidays and changes to overtime for state employees, no early release of prisoners, funding for rural law enforcement, the creation of a "rainy day fund" to keep the state financially liquid in the future, streamlining building permits, exemptions from state environmental laws for transportation projects and tax credits for businesses that hire new employees.

Backlash

"I knew there would be a tremendous amount of anger, a tremendous amount of confusion" regarding his vote, Adams said. "I went into this with my eyes open."

He wasn't wrong about the anger: Talk radio hosts have gone after him. Newspaper editorials have criticized him.

The California Republican Party has announced that Adams and the other five Republicans who voted in favor of the budget will not be receiving any funds from them come reelection time. (Adams was elected without funds from the state party, although he has contributed nearly $100,000 to the state party, he has said.)

Earlier this week, a Newport Beach-based political action committee has announced they will mount a recall attempt against Adams.

"I'm anxious to make my case before the voters," Adams said. "I am not going to go down without a fight."

Beau Yarbrough can be reached at 956-7108 or at beau@hesperiastar.com.