Wednesday was the constitutional deadline for the Legislature to pass a budget, and it received extra attention this year because of the new law whereby legislators permanently lose pay if they miss it. The legislative session on that day featured metaphorical arm-twisting for votes and an actual scuffle over a perceived insult and inadequate apology.
In the end, both the Senate and Assembly passed all of the bills necessary to implement the budget (summarized here). That plan was designed so that Democrats could pass it with majority votes in the absence of Republican support for extending taxes rates. It made deep cuts to many programs, but also relied on a fair number of one-time solutions, several of which were sure to face legal challenges.
The Senate passed the bills first, and when the Assembly followed suit, they immediately transmitted the two budget bills, SB 69 (passed in March but never sent to the Governor) and AB 98, to the Governor. They did not immediately transmit the trailer bills, and they remain in “engrossing and enrolling,” a kind of limbo between the Legislature and the Governor.
Because of those one-time and legally suspect solutions, State Treasurer Bill Lockyer’s office said that they did not think the plan would have allowed the state to borrow the money it would need.
The Governor had promised previously not to sign a gimmicky budget, and said that he intends to continue working with both parties to pass his budget plan, which includes taxes. The Democratic leaders of each house immediately called a press conference expressing their dismay at the veto. Many observers believe the speed of the veto caught them off guard, and that they likely thought the Governor would negotiate over the following days with their budget as his backstop.
CSAC had serious concerns with the budget plan. Most significantly, it failed to provide adequate, predictable funding for either AB 109 or for local public safety subventions. CSAC’s analysis of the budget, along with other budget-related documents, are available here. More information about the week’s events can be found in the most recent Executive Director’s Watches, available here.
Interestingly, it is unclear whether legislators are getting paid right now. State Controller John Chiang will be analyzing the bills the Legislature passed and determining whether they met their constitutional obligation to pass a balanced budget by June 15. His full statements on the matter are available here.
So what’s next? Negotiations and advocacy continue, with no one sure of the timing for a possible deal. Like the man said, “the future’s uncertain and the end is always near.”