Calif. Budget 'Painful Yet Hopeful'

State Senate passes budget plan on $15.7 billion gap

Friday, Jun 15, 2012  |  Updated 2:49 PM PDT
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Calif. Budget 'Painful Yet Hopeful'

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LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 14: California Gov. Jerry Brown speaks during a news conference about the state budget on May 14, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. Brown proposes $8.3 billion cuts in California to help close a projected $16 billion budget shortfall. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

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State lawmakers approved a plan Friday to balance California's $15.7 billion deficit without Gov. Jerry Brown's endorsement so they can keep collecting their paychecks.

The Senate passed the main budget bill, which has fewer welfare cuts than the governor proposed, on a 23-16 vote. The Assembly also passed the measure, 50-25.

In introducing the Democratic spending plan, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Mark Leno called it "a budget which is painful yet hopeful, sobering yet with vision."

The plan assumes voters will approve Brown's initiative on the November ballot to raise the sales tax by a quarter cent and increase income taxes for people who make more than $250,000 a year.

Democrats propose filling the remaining shortfall with a combination of cuts and shuffling funds.
Republicans called the plan incomplete and urged Brown to veto the budget bill.

"This budget is full of borrowing and gimmicks," said Sen. Bill Emmerson, the ranking Republican on the budget committee. He objected that the budget documents were kept secret until just hours before the vote.

"This budget assumes passage of an unpopular tax initiative that is likely to be voted down. You know it and I know it," he said.

Brown's tax measure is projected to raise $8.5 billion through mid-2013. If voters reject the tax hike, schools and other public entities would be subject to severe automatic cuts, which include shortening the educational year by several weeks.

A Field Poll released last week showed that a slim majority of likely California voters support the initiative, with the proposal leading by a 52 percent to 35 percent margin.

Democrats worked on two tracks to pass a budget and continue negotiations with Brown on several sticking points, particularly welfare cuts.

"We have worked closely with the governor all year, and there are small but important differences to resolve in the coming days," Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg said in a video released Friday on YouTube. He told reporters later that he had not met with Brown Friday and there was no resolution of their remaining disagreements.

Democrats are resisting deeper cuts to the state's welfare-to-work program known as CalWORKS, child care assistance for low-income families, in-home supportive services, and eliminating Cal Grants for students who attend private colleges.

 

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