The measure, negotiated by Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative leaders last week, would transfer 1.5 percent of general fund revenue to a reserve, along with capital gains revenue that exceeds 8 percent of general fund taxes. One-half of the money would go to pay down state debt.
Lawmakers said the measure would bring some control to a state budget marked by booms and busts since the dot-com windfall 15 years ago. It passed both houses unanimously.
"This is one of the most important measures we will vote on this year," Assembly Republican Leader Connie Conway said. Recalling harrowing budget fights of past years, the Tulare Republican said, "A rainy day fund, had it been in place, would not have eliminated all of the painful cuts and issues we had to deal with. But it certainly would have softened the blow."
The measure, ACA 1 of the second extraordinary session, will replace ACA 4 that is already on the November ballot. It was the product of a 2010 budget deal between legislative leaders and then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
"If you graph the budget and tax revenue of other states you would have something that went up and down a bit based on business cycles," Assemblyman Mike Gatto, D-Silver Lake, the author of ACA 4, said Thursday before voting for ACA 1. "If you were to graph California's tax revenue, you would have something that looks like a seismograph."
The measure passed the Senate after similar bipartisan praise.
"It follows that very fine between fiscal responsibility and allowing for some flexibility for our opportunity to restore funding for the needs of the people of California," state Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco said.
— Jeremy B. White, Laurel Rosenhall and Jim Miller
PHOTO: Assembly Republican leader Connie Conway, R-Tulare, talks with reporters after Gov. Jerry Brown's State of the State address at the Capitol in Sacramento on Jan. 23, 2013. Associated Press Photo/Rich Pedroncelli