With less than four weeks left in this year's legislative session, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg says his top priority will be putting Californians back to work.
"It doesn't take any kind of a brain surgeon or political genius to know that the economy and unemployment are the most important issues," Steinberg told reporters yesterday after a Senate floor session.
For the Sacramento Democrat, that means pursuing a handful of proposed changes to the state's regulatory processes, including measures to streamline permitting, take duplicative regulations off the books and create some sort of standardized economic impact analysis to weigh the costs of new regulations. Some of those measures were unveiled in February as part of a package backed by Steinberg and other Democrats, while others were discussed as part of this year's failed negotiations to hold a statewide election on taxes.
"There's a whole host of measures that are pending on both the respective floors that can and should be packaged together to move and to demonstrate to the people of California that while balancing the budget is probably the most important thing we can do to instill confidence, we also have a lot of legislative tools here to help put people back to work - and that's where I intend to have my focus and the focus of my caucus," he said.
Revenue for the first month of the fiscal year was roughly $538 million below the projections counted on in the state budget approved in June, sparking more concerns that school budgets will face deeper cuts if revenue doesn't increase and "trigger" cuts included in the spending plan are activated early next year. But Steinberg says he has no plans to revisit the budget over the next few weeks in light of what he called "very early" revenue numbers.
"They do provide some cause for concern, but I think we really need to see the fall numbers," he said. "I still have a reasonable hope that we're not going to have to pull at least all of those triggers and I want to focus these three weeks on what we can do to increase the tax base by putting people back to work."
The package proposed by Steinberg earlier this year has yet to advance in the Legislature, but he said yesterday he has been working with the business community behind-the-scenes over the last few months to get the measures ready action in the final stretch of session.