State lawmakers pass a budget


The state budget is an $86 billion plan that has now been sent onto the governor with only a little bit of drama and arm-twisting in the Senate.

Virtually every vote went along party lines. Early on, the Senate vote was a tie, leaving Democrats two votes short of passing the main budget, which is something Sen. President Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, called a hiccup.

"Maybe what I need is to have a couple of the members hold [their fingers in their ears] and take a couple sips of water. That, I'm told, cures hiccups," said Steinberg.

One of the Democrats who broke ranks and voted no on the main budget is Sen. Leland Yee of San Francisco.

"This budget is going to devastate further public education, our schools, our children… another $3 billion worth of cuts. In addition to that we're going to be looking at higher student fees," said Yee.

The U.C. and C.S.U. systems would each lose $150 million. The state is anticipating an extra $4 billion in tax revenues, but that has pitfalls too.

"If the anticipated revenue does not show up and turn up, then we will have additional, very severe cuts that are in place if the governor was really serious and wanted to show, so that we can show why we need extended structural revenue increases in the future," said Assm. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo.

After vetoing the budget two weeks ago, Brown negotiated this deal with Democrats. Because there is no tax increase, a simple majority vote was enough. Not a single Republican vote was needed.

"I think this budget right now doesn't go far enough to really correcting the things that are wrong here in California. Of course I think it's going to be a relief to taxpayers if the actual taxes go back to what they were before 2009," said St. Sen. Bob Dutton, R-Senate Minority Leader.

Temporary taxes are set to expire on Friday. The state sales tax would drop by 1 percent and the vehicle license tax would drop by half, but drivers would have to pay an extra $12 to register their vehicles.

"I do anticipate the governor signing this budget. Of course we stood together, sat together, at his bench yesterday and he backed the plan," said Steinberg.

Incidentally, Yee did not change his no vote.

Brown released a statement that said: "Democrats in the California State Legislature made tough choices and delivered an honest, balanced and on-time budget that contains painful cuts and brings government closer to the people through an historic realignment. Putting our state on a sound and sustainable fiscal footing still requires much work, but we have now taken a huge step forward."

If Brown signs the budget before Friday, this would be only the sixth time since 1991 that California has had a budget in place before the start of the fiscal year.

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