Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

June 15, 2013
California Democrats wrap up budget, flex supermajority power


As the state Senate finished voting today on a bill to extend a tax on managed care plans, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg told reporters at the back of the room, "That is what's called a supermajority."

The measure was a relatively modest part of the annual budget package wrapped up by the Legislature today, but it required a two-thirds vote and afforded Democrats an opportunity to flex the supermajority power they gained in November elections.

Democrats in the Assembly mustered two-thirds not only for the managed care tax, but also for a bill that would ask voters to lower from two-thirds to 55 percent the voter-approval threshold for a local government to incur bonded indebtedness for certain public improvements. It is one of several Democratic proposals to lower the voter-approval threshold on local tax and revenue measures.

Assemblyman Bob Blumenfield, D-Woodland Hills, said the measure would give local agencies "tools so that they can make the choices and the investments in the infrastructure that they need to grow their economics and make their cities livable."

Assemblyman Don Wagner, R-Irvine, said, "You know and I know that bond is just a four-letter word for tax."

After every Assembly Democrat voted for the bill, Assembly Constitutional Amendment No. 8, Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, said on Twitter, "All Dems went up on ACA 8. Let's just say that, for a few of them, the targets on their backs just got a little larger."

Steinberg called the Assembly's vote a "good sign" and said he personally supports the measure. However, he said the upper house will not consider voter threshold issues until early next year, which is still in time to place them on the 2014 ballot.

After voting Friday for the state's main, $96.3 billion budget bill, lawmakers today finished voting on all but one of the numerous trailer bills required to implement the annual spending plan. Senators were expected in committee Monday to discuss the final measure, involving a coordinated care program for "dual eligibles" - people enrolled in both Medi-Cal and Medicare.

For the most part, however, the budget is done.

"I'm just very pleased," Steinberg said.

Gov. Jerry Brown is expected to sign the spending plan before the next fiscal year begins July 1. After the Senate and Assembly adjourned for the day, he issued a statement on Twitter.

"After two and a half years of struggle and difficult times," Brown said, "California's budget is balanced and sustainable into the future."

The Bee's Jim Sanders contributed to this report.

PHOTO: State Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, right, pumps his fist after one of the state budget bills was passed by the Senate on Friday, June 14, 2013. Associated Press/Rich Pedroncelli

June 15, 2013
With budget foregone conclusion, lobbyists quiet for day at Capitol

lobby.jpgA handful of lobbyists sat before a television in a Capitol hallway as the Legislature convened this morning for final budget debates, where 10 times as many might have minded the goings-on in previous, more contentious years.

One casualty of a frictionless budget, it would seem, is any drama on the constitutional deadline to pass a spending plan.

Lawmakers approved the state's main, $96.3 billion budget bill on Friday, four days after Democratic leaders reached agreement with Gov. Jerry Brown. Lawmakers were casting final votes today on trailer bills required to implement the plan.

With a lack of remaining controversy about the budget - only Republicans, a super-minority, raised significant objections - lawmakers were trying to move quickly to start their abbreviated weekends.

Among the lobbyists in the hallway was Vanessa Cajina, of the Western Center on Law and Poverty. She said she likes to be present when votes happen, and the number of lobbyists around her increased to about a dozen by the time the Senate convened.

Still, a budget debate just isn't the same when it occurs at 11 a.m. on a Saturday.

For one thing, "Chops isn't open," Cajina said, referring to the popular restaurant/watering hole across from the Capitol.

PHOTO: Lobbyists watch Assembly proceedings on a television in a Capitol hallway on Saturday, June 15, 2013. The Sacramento Bee/David Siders


Capitol Alert Staff

Jeremy White Jeremy B. White covers California politics and edits Capitol Alert's mobile Insider Edition. Twitter: @capitolalert

Amy Chance Amy Chance is political editor for The Sacramento Bee. Twitter: @Amy_Chance

Dan Smith Dan Smith is Capitol bureau chief for The Sacramento Bee.

Christopher Cadelago Christopher Cadelago covers California politics and health care. Twitter: @ccadelago

Micaela Massimino Micaela Massimino edits Capitol Alert.

Laurel Rosenhall Laurel Rosenhall covers the Legislature, the lobbying community and higher education. Twitter: @LaurelRosenhall

David Siders David Siders covers the Brown administration. Twitter: @davidsiders

Dan Walters Dan Walters is a columnist for The Sacramento Bee. Twitter: @WaltersBee

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