California Legislature Approves On-Time State Budget Package
On Wednesday, the California Legislature approved a plan to close the state's $9.6 billion deficit and sent it to Gov. Jerry Brown (D), meeting their budget deadline for the second time in 25 years, the Sacramento Bee reports.
Yesterday also marked the first time since 1933 that the Legislature passed a budget with a simple majority vote instead of a two-thirds majority (Yamamura, Sacramento Bee, 6/16).
Approval of the budget means that lawmakers will continue receiving their salaries. If they had missed the June 15 budget deadline, lawmakers would have lost pay for every day the state went without a budget (Buchanan/Lagos, San Francisco Chronicle, 6/16).
Details of the Plan
Brown and Democratic lawmakers initially pushed for a spending proposal that called for a special election on tax increases and extensions, but Republicans refused to support the tax measures (Goldmacher/York, Los Angeles Times, 6/16).
On Tuesday, Democrats released an alternative budget proposal that left out the tax measures, meaning that the plan could be passed with a simple majority vote (California Healthline, 6/15).
Yesterday, the Senate voted 23-15 to pass the Democrats' main budget bill (AB 98) and the Assembly voted 51-23 in favor of the legislation. No Republican lawmakers voted for the budget plan (Drange, California Watch, 6/16).
The Democrats' budget package includes fee hikes, accounting assumptions and other maneuvers that critics say will do little to address California's structural deficit.
The plan would impose deeper cuts to higher education, local law enforcement and the courts. It also assumes that:
- The state will win a lawsuit allowing it to move forward with a plan to take $1 billion from First 5 early childhood health and development services; and
- The state will receive $700 million in federal funds for Medi-Cal, California's Medicaid program (Harmon, Contra Costa Times, 6/15).
Many RepublicansÂ criticized the Democrats' budget package as unbalanced and full of gimmicks.
Assembly member Tim Donnelly (R-San Bernardino) called the plan "the legislative paycheck protection program" (Los Angeles Times, 6/16).
Budget Goes to Brown
Brown received the budget package late on Wednesday, and it is unclear whether he will sign it. The governor legally can hold the legislation for 12 days before taking action. According to the Contra Costa Times, Brown might use that time to revive budget talks with GOP lawmakers (Contra Costa Times, 6/15).
Democratic lawmakers noted they might modify their budget plan if they succeed in obtaining GOP support for some of the governor's proposals before the July 1 start of the fiscal year (San Francisco Chronicle, 6/16).
Brown spokesperson Elizabeth Ashford said the governor will not comment on the budget package until he has a chance to review it (Contra Costa Times, 6/15).
For additional coverage of the budget package, see today's Capitol Desk post.
Headlines and links to editorials on the newly approved budget plan are provided below.
- "California Gov. Jerry Brown Should Hold Out for a Budget Deal" (Los Angeles Times, 6/16).
- "Lawmakers Will Get Paid, Thanks to Budget Vote" (Sacramento Bee, 6/16).
- "Jerry Brown Should Veto Budget" (San Jose Mercury News, 6/15).