State lawmaker calls for 72-hour online posting of budget before vote
The budget proposed last week by Gov. Jerry Brown will be a different document when the Legislature approves it in June, and one lawmaker wants to make sure changes aren’t pushed through at the 11th hour without public scrutiny.
Assemblyman Mike Morrell (R-Rancho Cucamonga) has introduced a bill that would require the entire budget to be posted on the Internet for public review for three days before a vote by the Legislature.
"I have never been given more than two hours to read and accept a 1,000-page budget before I cast a vote,'' Morrell complained. "Am I supposed to trust and rely on Cliff note recommendations? More importantly, is that fair to the people of California?''AB 70 is Morrell’s second attempt to make the budget process more transparent. A similar bill last year didn’t even get a committee vote. A report by a legislative analyst last year warned that the 72-hour rule "could reduce the ability of the Legislature to meet Constitutional deadlines for passing the budget on time."
The report noted that the budget must be passed by June 15, which is only 32 days after the governor puts out a revised budget proposal in May. "This bill would further shrink the 32 day window by setting aside three days for the bills to be in print," the analysis said.
It also said that the main budget bill itself has been in print for more than 72 hours in four of the last five years. The analysis doesn’t say that numerous trailer bills that are key parts of the budget and often are loaded with pork and controversial tax breaks are sometimes rewritten within hours of the final vote. Morrell’s bill would require those trailer bills also to be in print for three days.
"I expect those that have something to hide may not support this bill,'' Morrell said.
--Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento
Photo: Gov. Jerry Brown last week pointing to a chart on his proposed budget. Credit: Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press