As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Monday, June 29, 2009

Decision Time On The CA Budget

The Senate followed the Assembly today by passing a majority-vote budget, mostly along party lines, that solves the entire current deficit and includes a large reserve. The Governor has vowed to veto the package. CDP Chair John Burton is asking for grassroots action to force the Governor into compliance, which I consider unlikely, but it's worth reposting some of the letter for the perspective of Burton:

Late last night, Assembly Democrats passed a spending plan that minimizes the cruel cuts advocated by the governor by raising $2 billion in new revenue. Just a few minutes ago, Senate Democrats followed suit, passing a plan that requires Big Tobacco and Big Oil to share in the state budget sacrifice.

Speaker Karen Bass, President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and their caucuses should be commended for standing firm against the governor’s Draconian cuts.

In order to pass the plan, legislative leaders structured it to require a majority vote. That’s because Republicans have repeatedly refused to provide the handful of votes necessary to pass the plan with two-thirds support.

Disappointingly, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has vowed to veto the Democrats’ budget plan, preferring to play a game of chicken with the budget. He and Legislative Republicans would rather strip health care from nearly one million children and close 220 state parks than ask corporate special interests to pay their fair share.

Now, the onus is on the governor and Republican lawmakers to explain to Californians why they would rather drive the state over a cliff than agree to a budget with a mix of cuts and new revenue.

Please, call Governor Schwarzenegger’s office today at (916) 445-2841 or (213) 897-0322. Ask the governor to sign this budget plan, which minimizes the cuts by sharing the sacrifice.

Echoing the theme, Sen. Steinberg said today, "Shutting down the govt is not the answer to solving CA's problems." He also called on the Governor to "release the Senate GOP" and allow for a bipartisan vote on stop-gap measures, the same that passed the Assembly, to allow for continued negotiations after the June 30 deadline.

What is now at risk, in addition to the distribution of IOUs, are $3 billion in savings from the current fiscal year, savings that will essentially be lost with no deal by midnight tomorrow.

In a nutshell: the deficit solutions pitched by both Governor Schwarzenegger and Democratic legislators rely on a spending reduction of about $3.3 billion in the 2008-2009 fiscal year that ends on June 30.

That's tomorrow at midnight. Once the new fiscal year begins, those savings are effectively gone.

$3 billion of those savings would come from K-12 and higher education. They are not popular spending cutbacks in education circles, but reflect the larger 'all options are bad' narrative that you've heard in all circles for the past several weeks. The final $300 million or so of current year savings come from a plan to transfer money away from local redevlopment agencies.

Budget staffers say it matters which budget year to which these spending reductions are attributed (2008-09 vs. 2009-10) -- in large part because additional cutbacks in 2009-10 could complicate the already delicate issue of eligibility for federal stimulus dollars.

Immediate savings are important for another reason: they provide some breathing room for the cash-depleted state coffers and might lower or eliminate the need for Controller John Chiang to issue IOUs by week's end.

With no stopgap, essentially lawmakers will have to find an additional $3.3 billion in the 2009-10 FY budget, on top of everything they're already doing. So the Governor not only threatens a government shutdown with his intransigence, he wastes the state an additional $3 billion dollars, in effect.

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