Those of you who were surprised when Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger floated the idea of a temporary sales tax increase as part of a budget solution, raise your hands.

As I thought, not many. It was hard not to see this proposal coming. The governor suggested a temporary sales tax solution as a back-up to his lottery lease plan months ago. As I wrote at the time, he dipped into former Governor George Deukmejian’s playbook in which Duke proposed a temporary sales tax be triggered by a certain time if the hole in the state budget hadn’t closed.

In budget negotiations, the governor apparently floated a package of a firm spending limit and structural budget reform along with the temporary sales tax, which he moved from back-up status to be part of the end game. In Arnold Schwarzenegger’s post-partisan world, he is the only one who would make this call.

And he may be the only one with an official say in the matter who likes this plan.

Are the Democrats ready to deal on a spending limit? They are close to capturing their dream of holding two-thirds majorities in both houses of the legislature and they are expecting a banner election day. Why concede a spending cap when they soon may be able to spend to their heart’s content? The Democrats still want tax increases to be on the wealthy and businesses, not all taxpayers.

Are the Republicans ready to accept tax increases even if accompanied by budget reforms of which they approve? Republicans complain they bear a tattered brand in popular perception, but what remains of their brand is that Republicans oppose taxes and they insist on holding to that.

Tax increases are not a good idea in an economic downturn. Recovery will be that much harder to achieve. Furthermore, taxes add another weight on Californians who are struggling with the rising cost of goods and services, especially food and gas. But the pressure to reach a budget solution, given intractable positions, will assuredly result in some unwise fiscal moves.

Has the governor’s proposal moved California toward a budget solution? Taxes are closer to the center of the table than they have ever been before. The sales tax idea coupled with the governor’s executive order to pay public employees minimum wage if the budget is not resolved may pressure the Democrats to abandon their tax plan to hike the income and corporation taxes and consider the sales tax as a way out.

Even many Republicans quietly acknowledge that revenue increases will be part of the final budget package. But the potential loophole closings some Republicans would accept is a large step away from an across-the-board tax increase the governor proposes.

Look to instant polls that will test the tax-budget reform plan to see where the people stand on this idea. The polls will determine if the governor stands, as Dan Weintraub described him in the title of his book: A Party of One.