Lawmakers faced a Friday deadline to pass the budget in order to avoid losing their pay and expense money. It marked the second budget lawmakers passed using their new majority-vote authority under Proposition 25, rather than the supermajority vote required prior to 2011.
While lawmakers sent Brown the main budget bill, Assembly Bill 1464, they did not send him the bulk of more than two dozen "trailer" bills that actually explain how to cut programs and raise revenues to carry out the expenditures. Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, said that is because legislative Democrats and Brown still must resolve "small but important differences."
Democrats believe that they satisfied the Proposition 25 requirement by sending AB 1464 alone. Last year, Controller John Chiang cited their failure to pass all of the revenue-related trailer bills by the June 15 deadline as one reason to dock their pay, but his power to interpret their budget was curtailed by a Sacramento Superior Court decision in April.
Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, said Brown would sign the main budget bill and all related bills before the July 1 start of the next fiscal year.
The Democrats' budget relies on cuts to courts, counties and state workers, along with an $8.5 billion November tax hike on sales and high-income earners. It also includes funds from now-defunct redevelopment agencies, borrowing from special funds and extending cuts to in-home care, child care and welfare job training.
Leno said the Democrats' budget is almost identical to Brown's, suggesting in an awkward analogy that it is nearly as perfectly aligned with the governor's plan as San Francisco Giants pitcher Matt Cain's historic Wednesday performance was perfect. He said it was an honestly balanced budget that includes serious cuts to state programs across the board.
"The cuts are indeed real, and indeed painful," Leno said. "Just ask the 20-year-old community college student with a dream of a higher education, working two jobs, earning a solid 'B' average and fearing that her Cal Grant may vanish, if not her slot at CSU, all the while tuition is escalating."
Republicans attacked the Democratic budget one by one to start debate. They said there had been no transparency, that Democrats were foolish to assume voters will pass higher taxes on sales and upper-income earners and that the plan is not balanced.
"This budget is a slow-motion train wreck, and you're driving the bus," said Sen. Tom Berryhill, R-Oakdale. "If you think the voters are going to give you your tax increases in November, and all you offer is this sham, you are sadly out of touch. The governor needs to veto this budget, and I urge a 'no' vote."
PHOTO CREDIT: State Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and Senate Budget Committee Chairman Sen. Mark Leno shake hands before the Senate discusses the state budget. AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli