California lawmakers pass long overdue budget

Assemblywoman Cathleen Galgiani, D-Livingston, left, hugs Assembly Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles, after an all night session ended at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif., Friday, Oct. 8, 2010.

October 8, 2010 6:52:33 PM PDT
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed California's budget Friday afternoon, ending the 100-day long saga of lawmakers trying to approve a spending plan for the state.

The deal was made primarily with cuts of nearly $7.5 billion and only $2.5 billion in new revenues coming in. The rest relies on wishful thinking and creative accounting. It closes the $19 billion deficit based on shaky assumptions, but the agonizing wait is over.

"I'm proud to say that we Democrats and Republicans fought through all those minefields and all those obstacles that were in front of us and we got the job done," Schwarzenegger said.

Lawmakers were in session all night with much of the delay in the Senate.

Three Democrats who can normally be counted on for "yes" votes were withholding theirs, mostly because years of cuts, including this year's $7.5 billion, were too much to stomach. They cut $3 billion from schools alone.

"It seems like there's no end in sight and at some point, you've got to say enough is enough," St. Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, said.

Last-minute favors and backroom deals also delayed the budget with lawmakers trying to jam proposals through that affect only narrow interests.

A bill benefitting online travel sites by changing the way hotel taxes are calculated failed, as did a measure to ban the towing of the cars of sober illegal immigrants at DUI checkpoints.

But an environmental provision to help Pacific Ethanol, owned by a Schwarzenegger ally, passed and San Diego got some redevelopment money that'll be used to help build a new stadium for the Chargers.

"Extracting favors for special interests at the end of the budget process is not good for government and it's not good for democracy," Katie Fleming of Common Cause said.

The special favors angered some people who ended up on the chopping block, like low income seniors who use in-home support services. A 3.5 percent cut means fewer hours caregivers can spend at patients' homes.

"I'll be there alone a lot longer, that's what that means, and that's kind of scary," in-home service recipient Hene Kelly said.

Schwarzenegger used his line-item veto authority to cut another $1 billion from the budget. The state controller will now analyze the state spending plan and see if there is enough money to pay the $8 billion worth of unpaid bills.


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