Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg today repeated a pledge to look for budget solutions that would allow lawmakers to preserve some services targeted with steep cuts under Gov. Jerry Brown's revised budget plan.
"I said on Monday, I'm not looking for a public fight here," the Sacramento Democrat said this morning. "We're looking to work collaboratively and yet not be afraid to have our differences or air our differences with the other stakeholders, the other parties, but come to a resolution where we can in fact buy out some of the worst cuts."
The revised budget proposal released by the Democratic governor Monday calls for roughly $8 billion in cuts to close a projected deficit that has grown to $15.7 billion since his January budget was unveiled. Those cuts include reductions to health and welfare programs and Cal Grants for low-income students.
Steinberg said he doesn't like many aspects of the proposal, including using money won in the mortgage settlement with major banks and reducing funding for the courts, but added that cuts with the most severe effect on the state's neediest constituencies will be the first to come off the chopping block.
"To me a cut that, you know, will result in the difference between life and death and a cut that will increase homelessness by definition, it's our obligation it seems that we do everything we can to avoid those cuts," he said.
Steinberg again floated the idea of using the state's planned $1.05 billion reserve to plug some of the cuts. Ratings agency Standard & Poor's warned lawmakers against that approach Tuesday, writing that the reserve "is low but important considering that the potential Facebook initial public offering-related income tax revenue is especially difficult to forecast."
"I respect the rating agencies, but the rating agencies don't represent a hungry kid who can't do well in school because his family has suffered a big cut in his CalWORKs grant," Steinberg said, referring to the state's welfare-to-work program.
He declined to specify other routes that majority Democrats may take to balance the budget without making all of the cuts proposed by Brown.
Here's a video of Steinberg's previous comments on Monday on how he views the cuts and how he hopes to plug the deficit: