California State Legislature Passes $92.1 Billion Budget Plan

Although Democratic leaders managed to muster the votes needed to pass the main budget bill, a deal has yet to be reached with Brown on what the final cuts to welfare will look like as these items were not taken up on the floor. The plan headed for the governor’s desk includes fewer cuts to health and human services than originally intended.

Today’s budget bill also comes along with several budget trailer bills which specify how and where to cut state programs, as well as how to raise and spend the revenue. This portion of the budget has yet to be forwarded to the Governor for signing.

The successful passage of the main budget bill means that lawmakers have met California’s constitutional deadline, which dictates that the Legislature must produce a budget by June 15th. Under Proposition 25, which voters approved at the ballot in 2010, Legislators lose their pay and compensation for each day the budget is delayed. Needless to say, this may have helped to cement the need to follow constitutional deadlines. Several Legislators were none too thrilled with getting their pay docked for a delayed budget the last time around- an issue which had to be resolved in court earlier this year.

Republican members of the Legislature spent most of the floor session pointing out flaws with the Democrat Majority Vote Budget. In both houses, members of the Republican caucus have been left out of this year’s budget negotiations, as their votes were no longer necessary to pass a budget as 2010’s voter approved ballot proposition also made it so that only a simple majority was necessary.

Among the main criticisms: a lack of budget process transparency, lending and borrowing gimmicks, as well as a heavy reliance on the $8.5 billion in new taxes as proposed by Governor Brown, which Californians have yet to vote on.

According to Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff:

“This is an incomplete budget plan. We are told there are at least 29 budget and related trailer bills yet we are voting on just nine bills. Why can’t the majority party share the language in print for 48-hours that contains the rest of this budget plan? The statements made to the news media yesterday that budget bills had been available and in print were not true.”

Assembly Republican Leader Connie Conway also released a similar statement:

“Despite the cheers today from our colleagues in the majority party, the budget we passed today is not balanced nor is it on time.  We only voted on half of the spending measures that compose the full budget before the midnight deadline, and what was voted on relies upon gimmicks, borrowing and an ill-fated tax increase that is unlikely to pass.  The worst is still before us in the coming days, including votes on the Democrat plan to fund the irresponsible public safety realignment scheme by shortchanging Central Valley law enforcement.”

Negotiations on cuts to social services are expected to continue next week between Democratic leaders and Governor Brown.