Democrats were able to pass a budget without Republicans because of new majority vote powers voters gave them last year. That, and a dock in pay, helped speed up the process. The bottom line is no new taxes. In fact, sales taxes and vehicle license fees are going down on Friday.
"This is the first on-time budget since I've been governor," said Gov. Jerry Brown.
While Brown joked about an on-time budget, the $86 billion spending plan was no laughing matter. It pares down state services substantially and brings general fund spending to its lowest since the early 70s. Nearly one-quarter of funding to UC and CSU has been slashed, 70 state parks are slated for closure, and, the poor, elderly, and disabled will have to live on smaller welfare grants and cash aid.
"These are really tough, hard decisions and going forward, Californians are going to have to think very hard about what it is that we want," said Brown.
The Democrats' first choice was to ask California voters if they wanted to extend the expiring tax hikes to save some services, but even after months of arm-twisting, Brown could not convince two Republicans in each house to go along.
"This is a victory for the people," said Assm. Tim Donnelly.
Assembly Republicans celebrated the end of the temporary tax hikes, marking it "Freedom from Higher Taxes Day." They estimate the average California household will be able to keep about $1,000 per tax year.
"This is much needed relief, and it's the result of Assembly Republicans standing together to protect the only special interest group that we represent and that's the hardworking taxpayers," said Assm. Connie Conway, R-Assm. Minority Leader.
Businesses like car dealerships hope Californians spend their extra money.
"I think there's a lot of people standing on the sidelines, waiting for the vehicle license fee and the sales tax to go down. I think there's a pent up demand and I think it'll certainly help the business," said Ray Enos, the owner of Downtown Ford.
Democrats, though, say there is a price to having more money in your pockets and less for state coffers.
"In terms of us being able to deliver the services and the educational opportunities for our children, there's a net negative there," said Assm. Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles.
Brown used his line-item veto pen to make more cuts on Thursday. He eliminated some boards and commissions, which means layoffs are ahead in the coming months and he reduced funding to the high speed rail project.