State lawmakers sign off on sleight-of-hand budget deal

The California Senate voted 23-15 on the central piece of the package, and the Assembly is expected to follow suit later today. Since the legislation only requires a majority vote - and not the two-thirds that have stymied so many budgets in the past - there's not much doubt that lawmakers will have a agreement for Gov. Jerry Brown's signature. What's missing are the kinds of structural reforms that would address the state's chronic budget shortfalls. Instead, they're closing the $9.6-billion deficit through a combination of funding cuts, revenue increases and one-time solutions. In other words, it's business as usual. From Capitol Alert:

Democrats, who unveiled the package this week when Republican support needed to pass Gov. Jerry Brown's tax extension proposal failed to materialize, stressed that the legislation up for a vote is not their preferred plan... They said they hope an agreement on extending and holding a statewide election on the higher tax rates set to expire can still be reached, pointing out that the governor will have 12 days to decide whether to sign the plan passed today. Republicans countered that Democrats and their labor union allies scuttled any chance at a deal by refusing to accept Republican-backed proposals for a state spending cap, pension system overhaul and regulatory re-write.

Today is the constitutional deadline for the Legislature to pass a balanced budget, and for the first time, lawmakers would be docked pay for each day the budget was late. So are they voting today just to get paid? Certainly looks that way, whether true or not.

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Mark Lacter
Mark Lacter created the LA Biz Observed blog in 2006. He posted until the day before his death on Nov. 13, 2013.
Mark Lacter, business writer and editor was 59
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