California lawmakers pass budget on time
June 16, 2011
California lawmakers raced up to the deadline Wednesday to send a budget proposal to Gov. Jerry Brown that contains further cuts to education, additional fees and many of the “gimmicks” that he repeatedly pledged to avoid in order to close an estimated $9.6 billion deficit. [CaliforniaWatch]
For the first time since 1986, legislators produced a budget by the June 15 deadline.
Proposition 25, passed last year, provides lawmakers the ability to pass a budget with a simple majority rather than a two-thirds vote. In addition, under Proposition 59, lawmakers would have forfeited their salary and per diem pay starting on June 16 if they had failed to meet the deadline.
Lawmakers in both houses scoffed at the notion that the threat of losing pay prompted them to move the budget thorough on time.
The Senate voted 23-15 in favor of the main budget bill and the Assembly voted 51-23, both simple majority votes.
Brown, who is continuing to negotiate with Republican lawmakers to get his tax extensions on the November ballot, now has 12 days to either sign or veto the budget package.
“If these taxes will not be put on the ballot, and if we’re going to retrench and retreat, then we are stirring up not a disaster this year, but we are furthering a decline that at some point becomes irreversible,” Brown said. “This battle this week is battle one, but there will be several more before we’re finished.”
Cuts enacted by lawmakers Wednesday include $150 million each to the UC and CSU systems, an additional $150 million to state courts, $1.7 billion in money that would come out of the state’s redevelopment agencies and nearly $3 billion in deferrals that would push repayments to K-12 education back another year.
The current budget looks to raise money through a $12 increase to the state’s vehicle registration fee, online sales tax revenue, the sale of two dozen state buildings and increased homeowner fees.
Republicans contend the budget package was a “missed opportunity,” and one that destroys job creation and continues the trend of spending more money than we bring in. Some suggested that Democrats acted simply to protect their own interests and avoid losing pay, California Watch said.
“We’ve been kicking the can down the road for the better part of 50 years. That’s why we’ve gotten into this mess where we are today,” said Sen. Tom Berryhill, R-Stanislaus.
Republican Party Chairman Tom Del Beccaro issued a statement following the Senate vote.
“Democrats have demonstrated that they are truly out of touch with the people of California,” he said. “Instead of making the necessary and popular reforms to California’s bureaucracy, the Democrats have chosen to pass a legally suspicious budget to save their own paychecks. It’s now up to Jerry Brown to finally keep one of his promises, do the right thing, and say no to the Democrats’ gimmicks-based budget solution.”
Assemblyman Bob Blumenfield, D-San Fernando Valley, meanwhile, said Wednesday’s budget passage would become a “new precedent” for meeting the deadline in the future, and he stressed the difference between this year and last, when lawmakers passed the budget a record 100 days late, according to California Watch.
“The era of late budgets is over. Political paralysis will not delay the passage of this budget,” Blumenfield said, adding that while the deadline was over, the work of lawmakers on both sides was not. “We have new budgetary authority from the voters, and we used it today. To the few legislators who support a plan, our doors are open to talk.”