Brown Vetoes State Budget Plan, Renews Push for Tax Measures
The veto puts Brown at odds with Democratic legislators and leaves the state spending plan -- and California's $9.6 billion deficit -- in flux as the governor revives efforts to seek GOP support for taxes.
In March, Brown signed budget legislation that included deep cuts to education and health and human services. The spending reductions and an unexpected increase in state revenues brought the state's $26.6 billion deficit down to $9.6 billion.
Brown initially sought to close the remaining deficit by imposing additional cuts and holding a special election on taxes. However, Republicans refused to support the tax measures.
Democrats then crafted an alternative budget that left out the tax measures, meaning that the plan could be passed with a simple majority vote.
On Wednesday, the Legislature passed the budget package along party lines, with no Republican support. The plan included spending cuts, fees and accounting maneuvers that Brown had criticized during his campaign (Yamamura, Sacramento Bee, 6/17).
Brown said he rejected Democrats' budget package because it "contains legally questionable maneuvers, costly borrowing and unrealistic savings" (Goldmacher/York, Los Angeles Times, 6/17).
The governor also blamed Republicans for hindering a bipartisan budget agreement by "obstructing" a public vote on his proposed tax measures.
Brown vetoed the main budget bills, but said he has not yet decided whether to approve several related measures, such as a plan to restructure redevelopment programs. Brown also indicated that he might sign a measure requiring Internet retailers to collect sales tax.
Lawmakers To Receive Pay?
The Legislature faced a June 15 deadline to pass a balanced budget or they could have lost their pay. However, Proposition 25 stipulates that lawmakers can continue collecting pay if they meet the deadline, even if the governor vetoes the budget.
State Controller John Chiang (D) said he is reviewing whether the Legislature's budget plan actually was balanced. He noted that lawmakers are scheduled to receive their next paycheck on June 30 (Lagos/Buchanan, San Francisco Chronicle, 6/17).
Senate President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) and Assembly speaker John PÃ©rez (D-Los Angeles) said they were "deeply dismayed" by the governor's veto and questioned his budget strategy. PÃ©rez added that the veto was "completely unnecessary" (Sacramento Bee, 6/17).
Steinberg defended the Democrats' budget plan, saying "We stand by our work and the work of our colleagues."
A group of four GOP senators previously involved in budget talks with Brown -- Sens. Anthony Cannella (Ceres), Tom Harman (Huntington Beach), Bill Emmerson (Hemet) and Tom Berryhill (Modesto) -- praised the veto, calling Democrats' budget plan a "sham."
However, the GOP senators disagreed with Brown's contention that Republicans had obstructed budget talks. In a statement, they said, "In fact, it's the Democrats who are holding California hostage by refusing to allow the voters to weigh in on meaningful structural reforms -- not just Gov. Brown's tax proposal" (Harmon, Contra Costa Times, 6/16).
According to the four Republicans, Democrats have blocked a deal to hold a public vote on a spending cap, pension reform and other regulatory changes.
Brown said he hoped his veto "sends a powerful message that all of us have to do more" to pass a balanced spending plan (Vara/Audi, Wall Street Journal, 6/17).
Brown said he will continue to seek Republican support for his plan to temporarily extend certain taxes until he can put the tax issue before voters on a fall ballot (Sacramento Bee, 6/17).
He said, "I am, once again, calling on Republicans to allow the people of California to vote on tax extensions for a balanced budget and significant reforms" (Medina, New York Times, 6/16).
Headlines and links to editorials on Brown's budget veto are provided below.
- "Brown Was Right to Veto the Sham Budget" (Contra Costa Times, 6/16).
- "Budget Veto: Brown's Stark Choice" (Los Angeles Times, 6/16).
- "A Good Veto, Probably for the Wrong Reasons" (Orange County Register, 6/16).
- "State Controller Chiang Should Withhold Pay" (Sacramento Bee, 6/17).
- "Budget Vetoed, Now Back To Work" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 6/17).
- "Gov. Jerry Brown's Budget Veto Was the Right Move" (San Francisco Chronicle, 6/17).
- "Brown Keeps Trust With Voters by Vetoing Sham Budget" (San Jose Mercury News, 6/16).
- "State Budget Veto Was the Right Step" (Ventura County Star, 6/16).
Headlines and links to broadcast coverage of the governor's veto are provided below.
- "Brown Vetoes Calif. Budget" (Myers, "All Things Considered," NPR, 6/16).
- "Governor Brown Vetoes Budget" (Russ, "KXJZ News," Capital Public Radio, 6/16).
- "Brown Vetoes Budget After State Democrats Pass it on Party Lines" (Small, "KPCC News," KPCC, 6/16).