California Legislators Fail To Pass Budget Plan by End of Regular Session
State legislators failed to pass a budget on the final day of the legislative session Tuesday, marking only the second time in 34 years that California has started September without a budget plan in place, the Sacramento Bee reports.
On Tuesday, both houses of the Legislature voted on rival Republican and Democratic budget plans. Despite nearly three hours of debate, neither plan obtained enough votes to move forward. Lawmakers generally voted along party lines, with Republicans and Democrats divided by their stances on spending cuts and tax rates (Yamamura, Sacramento Bee, 9/1).
California has gone without a budget since the state's fiscal year began on July 1. The state currently faces a $19 billion budget deficit, down from the $60 billion deficit that lawmakers closed last year.
The delayed action on this year's budget plan could threaten California's solvency and force state Controller John Chiang (D) to issue IOUs (Woo, Wall Street Journal, 8/31).
The plan supported by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) and many Republicans would end the state's welfare-to-work program, eliminate most state-supported child care programs and cut local mental health funding by almost 60%.
Democrats have proposed a plan that would reduce spending on prison health care, the In-Home Supportive Services program and state employee wages. The plan also would delay certain corporate tax breaks, decrease the state sales tax, and increase income taxes and vehicle registration fees (Buchanan/Ho, San Francisco Chronicle, 9/1).
Next Steps Toward Budget Agreement
Although meetings have yet to be scheduled, legislators are expected to resume private budget talks in the coming days.
On Sept. 9, Schwarzenegger plans to embark on a six-day trade mission in Asia, regardless of whether a budget has passed (Sacramento Bee, 9/1).
Lawmakers should not have waited until the last minute to put the budget plans to a vote, a San Diego Union-Tribune editorial states. It concludes, "That the Legislature appears comfortable with inaction is appalling. More and more, the 9% approval rating state lawmakers got in a spring Public Policy Institute of California poll looks to be on the generous side" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 9/1).
AÂ Sacramento Bee editorial states that some legislators are hinting that they would rather not pass a budget until after the November election. It continues that such delays would be a "[b]ig mistake," adding, "There's a chance for real reform this year, and with some heavy lifting, a budget with tax and pension reforms could be enacted this month" (Sacramento Bee, 9/1).
Headlines and links for broadcast coverage of legislators' failure to pass a budget plan are provided below.
- "Legislature Has Until Midnight To Vote on Pending Bills; Still No Budget" (Julian/Roe, "KPCC News," KPCC, 8/31).
- "California Lawmakers Fail To Pass Budget by End of Session" (Small, "KPCC News," KPCC, 8/31).