Democrats Release Budget Plan That Avoids Need for GOP Votes
On Tuesday, Democratic lawmakers introduced an alternative proposal that aims to close California's $9.6 billion budget shortfall through a simple majority vote, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
Gov. Jerry Brown (D) has struggled over recent months to obtain Republican support for his proposed spending plan, which relies on tax increases and extensions. Tax measures require approval from two-thirds of the Legislature, meaning that at least four Republicans would need to vote for the governor's plan.
In contrast, the Democrats' plan would require only a majority vote because it would not include the tax extensions or increases. Both the Assembly and Senate are expected to vote on the Democrats' plan today, the constitutional deadline for lawmakers to pass a balanced spending plan (Buchanan/Lagos, San Francisco Chronicle, 6/15).
If lawmakers miss tonight's midnight deadline, they could lose their pay for each day the budget is late.
Details of Democrats' Plan
The Democrats' budget plan would close the deficit through a mix of accounting maneuvers, delayed payments, spending cuts, fees and a plan to sell several state properties, according to an Assembly budget aide. According to the Bee, some of Democrats' proposed budget measures could face legal challenges (Yamamura, Sacramento Bee, 6/15).
The plan also relies on several assumptions, including 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 (Goldmacher, "PolitiCal," Los Angeles Times, 6/14).
If the Legislature passes the Democrats' budget proposal, Brown would have 12 days before he would need to take action on it (Harmon, Contra Costa Times, 6/14). According to the Los Angeles Times, it is unclear whether Brown would sign the alternative plan (Goldmacher, Los Angeles Times, 6/15).
Republican Senate Leader Bob Dutton (R-Rancho Cucamonga) criticized Democrats for releasing a budget plan that avoids the need for GOP support.
He said passing a spending plan with a majority vote would show that Democrats are not listening "to the will of the people who want real reforms, including a hard spending cap and meaningful pension reform" (San Francisco Chronicle, 6/15).
In related news, public support for Brown and his tax extension plan has declined since March, according to a new Field Poll.
The poll found that:
- 46% of registered voters say they approve of Brown's job performance, down two percentage points from March; and
- 52% of registered voters said they would be willing to extend temporary tax increases to close the state's deficit, down nine percentage points from March (Siders, Sacramento Bee, 6/15).
Headlines and links to editorials on state budget negotiations are provided below.
- "New Governor, Same Old Budget Tricks" (Orange County Register, 6/14).
- "In Budget Fight, Blame All Around" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 6/15).