Senate leader hails new era for California, plans for surpluses
State Senate Leader Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) said Monday that after years of grappling with large budget deficits, state finances are under control and lawmakers can focus on new proposals to improve the state and its economy.
"I really believe this is the end of one very difficult era in California and the beginning of a new and better era"’ he said at the Capitol after the Legislature gaveled in its new two-year session.
There is a chance that the state will begin to see budget surpluses in a few years, and Steinberg proposed that one-third of any surplus go to a rainy-day fund, one-third to paying down the state’s debt and a like amount to restoring social service and education programs cut during the last five years. "There is a lot of need out there," he said.
But a month after Californian voters approved two tax increase measures, Steinberg said he would proceed with caution in seeking new revenue.
"The voters do not want us to burst out of the gate to approve more taxes," Steinberg told a packed Senate chamber during the ceremony.
In a meeting later with reporters, the Senate leader also said he likes proposals made so far to allow cities and school districts to approve new parcel taxes with a 55% vote of the people rather than the two-thirds vote required by Proposition 13. That change could be put on the ballot by the Democratic supermajority in the Legislature.
"I believe the public supports giving school districts the ability to control their own destinies," Steinberg said.
-- Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento
Photo: Senate Leader Darrell Steinberg reacts at a news conference last month after the election of a Democratic supermajority in the Legislature. Credit: Randy Pench / Sacramento Bee