It’s happened only twice in a quarter century: California lawmakers passed an on-time budget Wednesday. But, that doesn’t mean the fight over state finances is finished.
It’s an unusual budget. Not only is it on-time, but it was debated during the day, rather than the dead-of-night. And it was passed by a majority vote. That’s a new power that voters gave Democrats last year. What’s not unusual is the partisan divide.
Here’s Democratic Senate President Darrell Steinberg: “it’s not perfect but it is progress.”
And here’s Assembly Republican Leader Connie Conway: “we have shifted the truth and we have shafted the taxpayers.”
The budget was crafted by Democrats as an alternative to Governor Jerry Brown’s proposal, which included tax extensions and required GOP votes. The new plan delays billions in school payments and cuts funding for higher education and the courts. It also extends part of the sales tax increase set to expire this month and hikes D-M-V fees by 12 dollars. Democratic Assemblyman Bob Blumenfield says now the state can avoid the uncertainty of a late budget:
“Partisan delay tactics have lost their power and Californians won’t spend another summer caught in the middle of a Republican hostage crisis,” said Blumenfield.
Democrats have portrayed Republicans as obstructionists, given that they’ve been unable to reach a deal on the Governor’s tax extension plan. But Assembly GOP Leader Connie Conway says that’s something to be proud of:
“The only thing we’ve blocked are the massive tax increases that would hurt working families and the economy, so go ahead and blame us. We accept full responsibility for standing united as the last defense for taxpayers,” said Conway.
If the Governor signs the budget, parts of it are all-but-certain to be challenged in court. So far, his office won’t say what Brown will do. He has 12 days to act, giving him time to continue working toward a deal with Republicans.