The package of bills passed by the Assembly last night, including $2 billion in new taxes— 9.9 percent tax on oil production, $1.50 per package tax on cigarettes, a $15 per vehicle fee on registration that would result in a free state park-pass, and the governor’s Emergency Response Fee (insurance policy surcharge to fund Cal Fire and local mutual response)—would otherwise require a two-thirds vote in each house, but the Democrats argue that the entire budget package is “revenue neutral,” thus requiring only a simple majority vote. Urgency clauses were also stripped out of each bill to make the bills majority vote bills.
Last week, State Controller John Chiang announced that he would be forced to issue IOUs starting this Thursday if there is no budget plan in place by Wednesday.
Beside the fact that the governor has vowed to veto the majority-vote budget package, the plan would not address the immediate cash flow crisis, as the cuts and revenue increases would not take effect until 90 days after the close of the third extraordinary session.
In other fascinating state budget news, Democrats now need more non-party votes to meet the two-thirds supermajority vote requirement needed for tax increases, urgency bills and traditional budget bills. Curren Price (D-Los Angeles) was recently sworn into the Senate to replace Mark Ridley-Thomas, who was elected to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. That leaves a vacancy for the 51st Assembly District seat, which will not be filled until later this fall. In an unusual move, Assembly Member Juan Arambula (I-Fresno) last week formally left the Democratic Party and registered as an Independent. Assembly Democrats must now secure five non-Democrat votes to meet the two-thirds majority vote threshold.