Lawmakers to Gov. Jerry Brown: Slow down
Gov. Jerry Brown’s budget proposal is far more than a spending plan. It includes major changes to welfare, child care, healthcare and school funding.
Now some lawmakers, who are tasked with reviewing Brown’s proposals, are signaling that they're ready to hit the brakes.
"It's atrocious we're making these extraordinary policy changes through the budget process,” Sen. Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach) said during a hearing in the Capitol on Thursday.
Lowenthal and some of his colleagues on the Senate Budget Committee want to call separate hearings on each proposal, which could drag out the process and allow for more debate.
“They ought to be fully fleshed out,” Sen. Joseph Simitian (D-Palo Alto) said. “No matter how deserving the proposal is, it deserves a fair hearing.”
Senate Budget Chairman Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) agreed and said lawmakers may need more time than the budget process allows to hash out all the details. The budget is supposed to be passed by the Legislature and signed by the governor by June 30.
Leno pointed out that senators spent hours at Thursday’s hearing discussing Brown’s proposal to overhaul the school funding formula, which governs how the state divvies up $46.6 billion, the single largest chunk of California's budget.
“Its going to be a major shift in funding education,” he said. “We want to make sure we get it right.”
Gil Duran, a spokesman for Brown, said the budget is inseparable from policy issues.
“The budget is the most important policy document in the state,” he said. “Spending and cuts have policy impact, and the budget outlines the policy blueprint for the coming year and beyond. That's why there are budget subcommittees for issues like education, transportation, health and human services, public safety and the environment.”
-- Chris Megerian in Sacramento
Photo: Gov. Jerry Brown speaks with Senate Budget Chairman Mark Leno (D-San Francisco, center) in the Capitol last year. Credit: Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press