California Legislature approves $92.1-billion budget
The California Legislature passed a $92.1-billion budget on Friday in a vote that avoided the drama and delay that long has characterized the Capitol’s annual spending debate.
The vote, largely a foregone conclusion, was almost completely along party lines, without a single Republican supporting the plan. The Senate voted first, approving the budget 23-16. The Assembly then voted 50-25.
The budget now goes to Gov. Jerry Brown, who has not said whether he will sign it. The spending plan pushed through the Legislature by Democrats is slightly larger than the one Brown proposed in May, and it makes fewer cuts to welfare, child care and college scholarships than the governor wanted.
Passing the budget on Friday allows lawmakers to meet their constitutional deadline and prevent their pay from being docked. But some major issues have not yet been decided.
First, negotiations will continue next week over social services and how to fund them. Second, the budget includes an $8-billion-plus hole that Brown and his allies want voters to fill with new taxes in November. The governor is pushing a plan to temporarily raise the states sales tax and increase income taxes for the wealthy. If voters reject the taxes, he says, the state will be forced to cut billions from public schools and colleges.
Republicans, who have been completely sidelined during negotiations, criticized the budget before the vote.
"This budget is full of borrowing and gimmicks," Sen. Bill Emmerson (R-Hemet) said.
Senate Budget Chairman Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) said Republicans haven't come to the bargaining table because they reject tax increases in all situations.
Balancing the budget, Leno said, is just "addition and subtraction. To take either one off the table makes the job much more difficult."
-- Chris Megerian in Sacramento
Photo: Assembly Speaker John Perez speaks with Assembly Republican Leader Connie Conway at the Capitol last year. Credit: Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press