Lawmakers want to tap special funds to prevent shortfall
Lawmakers voted Thursday to increase the state's ability to borrow from dedicated funds to cover day-to-day expenses, part of a strategy to keep California from falling into the red.
If Gov. Jerry Brown signs the bill, it is expected to free up $856 million from transportation-related funds. The state can already borrow from roughly $20 billion worth of dedicated funds, according to Brown's Department of Finance.
“We’re pleased the Legislature moved on this bill and we look forward to acting on it in the days ahead,” said Evan Westrup, a spokesman for Brown.
Lawmakers hope the bill will help plug a gap in the current budget year, although some Republicans spoke out against it.
"We’re going to rob from Peter to pay Paul," said Sen. Joel Anderson (R-San Diego). "To me, this just kicks the can further down the road."
The bill passed 54 to 17 in the Assembly and 24 to 14 in the state Senate.
State Controller John Chiang said in a letter Tuesday that California is burning through its cash reserves more quickly than expected and could be in the red by early March if the state doesn't increase its borrowing or delay payments.
Top Democrats and Brown's administration said the situation is not dire, and laid out a series of steps to shift money within the budget, borrow from state universities and delay medical reimbursements to make ends meet.
-- Chris Megerian in Sacramento