Lawmakers approve state budget plan
Democratic lawmakers approved a budget Tuesday night that would result in reductions of services for many -- from students enrolled at public universities to the needy and disabled -- as Californians begin paying less in taxes next month.
Their action came after Gov. Jerry Brown abandoned his months-long push for an alternative plan: asking voters to extend temporary taxes that are now expiring. Brown was unable to secure the needed GOP votes to put such a measure on the ballot. He said he would support the spending blueprint approved Tuesday.
The proposed budget assumes that a surge in the state economy will generate an extra $4 billion for state coffers. It also includes deep cuts to services, many of which were approved by lawmakers in March. If the new revenue doesn't materialize, more cuts would be triggered, including a reduction in school spending equivalent to shaving seven days off the academic calendar.
Brown is expected to sign the budget before the new fiscal year begins Friday. His signature would cap a tumultuous two weeks in Sacramento, which included the first veto of a budget on record in state history and the state controller stripping lawmakers of their pay because the vetoed plan was unbalanced.
"These cuts will forever haunt our conscience,'' said Assemblyman Bob Blumenfield (D-Woodland Hills), who chairs the budget committee in the lower house. "However, those of us who do vote for this budget can take comfort with the knowledge that we did what was necessary to move ourselves toward stability.''
Republican lawmakers said the budget pushes the state's fiscal problems into the future and fails to address problems such as the state's runaway pension costs and burdensome regulations on business that are a drag on the California economy.
"It does not solve our problem in the long run,'' said Assemblyman Jim Nielsen (R-Gerber) "There are no sustaining reforms that are critical.''
-- Shane Goldmacher and Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento