California lawmakers pass budget on $15.7B deficit

June 15, 2012 9:34:04 PM PDT
California lawmakers approved a budget with a plan to balance the state's $15.7 billion deficit. It doesn't have Gov. Jerry Brown's endorsement. The legislators met the midnight deadline to pass the budget, but some critics say they did it so, their pay wouldn't be docked.

Democrats passed an on-time budget using majority vote powers voters gave them under Proposition 25 in 2010. No Republican votes were necessary. By approving the main spending plan before the midnight deadline, they get to keep their entire paycheck, although leaders deny the lost wages for a late budget was the motivator.

But technically, the budget plan approved is incomplete. A host of trailer bills that explain how cuts will be carried out still need an OK. Those couldn't be voted on because the governor hasn't given his blessing.

"We acknowledge that we still have more work to do in terms of negotiating with the governor," said Sen. President Darrell Steinberg, D-Senate President.

The governor and Democratic leaders have yet to agree on how deeply to cut welfare, how many home care hours to take away from the elderly and disabled, and whether to eliminate Cal Grants for students attending private colleges. In-home care providers held a vigil in the capitol during the vote, hoping Brown adopts less severe cuts.

"So to cut? It's like 'no.' That's wrong... there's common sense here. You've got to stop cutting from the poor," said Tammy Stiles, an in-home care worker.

Besides the incomplete budget, Republicans point out it relies on $8.5 billion worth of new taxes and assumes voters will pass them. That vote is still more than four months away.

"If you think the voters are going to give your tax increases come November, and all you offer them is this sham, you are sadly out of touch," said Assm. Tom Berryhill, R-Oakdale.

Some lawmakers say a budget that's incomplete and relies on new taxes that may not come through, should equal a dock in pay.

"The voter intent of Proposition 25 was on-time and one that's balanced, and if it wasn't Legislators would lose pay," said Assm. Doug LaMalfa, R-Richvale.

A judge ruled several weeks ago that state controller John Chiang cannot be the sole determiner of whether a state budget is balanced, so Republicans called on Brown to veto this budget.


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