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Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed his own party's budget today, less than 24 hours after Democratic lawmakers sent him a majority-vote plan balanced with risky solutions.
The Democratic governor said during his campaign and throughout this year he would not sign a budget filled with "gimmicks," though he suggested earlier this week he had relaxed that stance.
In a letter to lawmakers, Brown said the Democratic plan is "not a balanced solution. It continues big deficits for years to come and adds billions of dollars in new debt. It also contains legally questionable maneuvers, costly borrowing and unrealistic savings. Finally, it is not financeable and therefore will not allow us to meet our obligations as they occur."
The governor did praise Democrats for "valiant efforts" in making painful cuts. He blamed Republicans for blocking real solutions.
"If they continue to obstruct a vote, we will be forced to pursue deeper and more destructive cuts to schools and public safety - a tragedy for which Republicans will bear full responsibility," Brown wrote.
Brown's veto will place the budget back in limbo with only 14 days left in the fiscal year. He has only two weeks to convince Republicans to extend taxes on vehicles and sales, as well as establish a special tax election. Democrats consider the multi-month "tax bridge" crucial if there is any chance for a successful special election on taxes later this year.
The governor is scheduled to hold a press conference this afternoon in Los Angeles. Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, and Assembly Speaker John A. PÃ©rez, D-Los Angeles, will speak to reporters in the Capitol later this morning.
Facing a constitutional deadline, Democratic lawmakers passed their budget Wednesday with the threat of pay forfeiture hanging over their heads. It was presumed that they met the requirements of voter-approved Proposition 25 by sending Brown a budget yesterday they considered balanced.
Controller John Chiang spokeswoman Hallye Jordan said Wednesday that Chiang had not yet reviewed the budget bills. The Democratic controller, who issues state paychecks, determined earlier this month that Proposition 25 requires lawmakers to send the governor a "balanced budget" to meet the pay requirement.
Brown said in his letter to lawmakers Thursday, "Unfortunately, the budget I have received is not a balanced solution" and that it was "not financeable." Jordan was not immediately available Thursday to say whether the controller would issue paychecks to lawmakers in light of the governor's message and veto. Proposition 25 does not speak to a balanced budget requirement, but Chiang included that interpretation two weeks before the deadline.
The governor's veto letter says that he has vetoed the two main budget bills in the Democratic package. He did not mention the nearly 20 other "trailer" bills associated with that budget.
Shortly after Capitol Alert's report this morning, Brown issued a YouTube video here. A transcript follows:
"Today I have vetoed the California state budget.
I do so reluctantly -- but with clear purpose.
For a decade, the can has been kicked down the road and debt has piled up.
In January, I presented a balanced budget solution of deep spending cuts and a proposal to let the people of California vote on whether to extend some taxes on a temporary basis. Unfortunately the Republicans said no. They didn't want the people of California to have that right to vote.
The Democrats, on the other hand, made some very deep cuts. In the budget that I received today, there was more positive work. Unfortunately it doesn't go far enough. California is facing a fiscal crisis, and very strong medicine must be taken.
So, I am vetoing it today because I don't want to see more billions in borrowing, legal maneuvers that are questionable, and a budget that will not stand the test of time."
Brown also sent the following letter to lawmakers today.
Jim Sanders contributed to this report.