Brown Faces Challenge in Reviving Budget Talks With Irked Lawmakers
California's DemocraticÂ legislators are expressing frustration after Gov. Jerry Brown (D) vetoed a spending plan that they passed last week, the Sacramento Bee reports (Siders, Sacramento Bee, 6/18).
Brown now faces a significant challenge in encouraging lawmakers to develop a budget plan that stays true to his campaign promises to avoid accounting gimmicks and enact tax measures only with voter approval (Mishak/York, Los Angeles Times, 6/18).
In March, Brown signed budget bills that included deep cuts to education and health and human services. The governor initially sought to close the remaining $9.6 billion deficit by imposing additional cuts and holding a special election on taxes. However, Republicans refused to support the tax proposals.
Democrats then crafted an alternative budget package that left out the tax measures, allowing them to pass their plan with a simple majority vote. Their package included spending cuts, fees and accounting maneuvers that Brown had criticized during his campaign.
Brown vetoed the Democrats' spending plan one day after they passed it, saying the package "contains legally questionable maneuvers, costly borrowing and unrealistic savings" (California Healthline, 6/17).
Regaining Democrats' Support
The governor is likely to face an uphill battle as he works to regain support for his budget plan among members of his own political party.
Sen. Ted Lieu (D-Torrance) said Democrats felt "misled" by the governor because he provided no indication that he would veto the budget plan. Lieu added, "No excuse for a Democratic governor to blindside a Democratic Legislature that was working with him and his staff."
One day after Brown's veto, Senate President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) halted all confirmation hearings on gubernatorial appointments (Harmon, Contra Costa Times, 6/17).
Courting the GOP
Despite the governor's veto, Republicans appear no more likely to support Brown's tax proposals.
Assembly member Jim Nielsen (R-Gerber), said, "The governor's insistence on pressing his own budget plan, without meaningful concessions on reasonable pension reform and spending cap ideas of others, represents budgeting by fiat" (Hindery, AP/San Diego Union Tribune, 6/17).
However, Bill Whalen, a fellow at the Hoover Institution, said Brown now might have more clout with Republicans because he has shown a willingness to reject Democrats' budgetÂ ideas (Contra Costa Times, 6/17).
Lawmakers' Pay Still Up in the Air
Meanwhile, state Controller John Chiang (D) said his office soon will finish its analysis on whether lawmakers will continue to receive pay after Brown's veto.
Although legislators passed a budget by the June 15 deadline, Chiang's office is assessing the plan to determine if it was balanced. Proposition 25 stipulates that lawmakers must pass a balanced budget by the June deadline to continue receiving pay.
A spokesperson for the controller's office said lawmakers' per diem payments will be withheld until Chiang makes a final decision (Yamamura, "Capitol Alert," Sacramento Bee, 6/17).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.