Setting The Scene
Well, it's going to be a late night. The Legislature is set to convene at 2pm to consider the budget deal. Here's the Assembly floor report. I could write another "25 Things" just off of this document, some of the bits buried in there are amazing. Here's just one example:
Eliminates automatic cost of living adjustments (COLA) for CalWORKs and SSI/SSP grants. Also eliminates COLA's for the budgets of UC, CSU, and other state departments.
Also, IHSS workers, who make $12 bucks an hour, may have to pay for their own criminal background checks and fingerprinting. Just for bureaucratic-speak, I also like the absurdity of this: "Consolidates the Bureau of Electronic Appliance Repair and the Bureau of Home Furnishings and Thermal Insulation into the Bureau of Electronic and Appliance Repair, Home Furnishings, and Thermal Insulation." Done!
This will not be an easy vote. Democratic lawmakers in the rank and file are unlikely to rubber stamp this. In addition to Sen. DeSaulnier, I'm hearing that many other lawmakers are uncomfortable on a variety of measures, to the extent that the Assembly Speaker is not whipping votes on the offshore drilling proposal or the dissolution of the Integrated Waste Management Board (which costs $0.00 for the state). The City of Industry lobbyist-backed deal to securitize redevelopment project money and tangle 10% of property tax revenue for up to 30 years isn't a done deal, either.
A provision of the budget agreement, which faces a vote in the Legislature as early as today, would extend the life of the state's redevelopment areas, a proposal that Industry officials have pushed for more than two years. Critics say the move would be a gift of public funds to benefit the proposed stadium and other private development at the expense of cities and counties that need the money for healthcare, welfare and police services.
A similar measure backed by Industry died in the Legislature last year after complaints from local government officials. But late in the budget negotiations, the city and its allies helped revive the proposal.
"They were able to find a mechanism to provide the infrastructure for an NFL stadium, but they aren't able to find the mechanism to fund nutrition for a hungry child," Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky said Wednesday. "It's galling. It's really galling."
AFSCME is running ads against the whole budget deal, and most advocacy groups have been quite critical. I would guess that most people in the Assembly have the perspective of indie Juan Arambula, that he'll vote for most of the budget "with a heavy heart and a clothespin on my nose." But I think some provisions could easily get struck down today, so it's worth letting lawmakers know what you think.