Capitol Alert

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Gov. Jerry Brown and Democratic legislative leaders have been meeting daily this week behind closed doors to resolve about $2 billion in differences over budget cuts that would affect the poorest Californians.

Facing a June 15 constitutional deadline, Democratic leaders say they intend to send Brown a budget by next Friday, and preferably a budget that the governor will sign.

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, and Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez, D-Los Angeles, have made it clear that legislative Democrats disagree with Brown specifically on his cuts to welfare-to-work, Cal Grants, In-Home Supportive Services and child care for low-income families.

Steinberg said Thursday those differences amount to roughly $2 billion. He suggested that, for the most part, legislative Democrats agree with the remainder of Brown's solutions to bridge a $15.7 billion gap. Some policy exceptions include the governor's plan to restrict wildfire liability and change tree-cutting requirements, as well as dealing with state park closures.

Democrats are privately suggesting alternatives to the cuts to buy down as many of them as possible. In the past, Steinberg has suggested reducing Brown's $1 billion reserve.

The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office said last month that lawmakers could find $1.9 billion by interpreting the state's school funding requirement differently than Brown did. That would bridge nearly the entire $2 billion gap dividing Brown and lawmakers.

But Steinberg said that is not being seriously considered because lawmakers don't want to cut schools further, and they believe that it could invite a lawsuit. School groups have not been shy in the past about filing a lawsuit or threatening legal action around the Proposition 98 constitutional requirement.



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