Budget Conference Committee to Convene
A special two-house conference committee will begin meeting May 21 to stitch together a revised budget designed to erase a gap between spending commitments and revenues of at least $15.4 billion and as much as $21.3 billion, if several budget-related ballot measures fail in the May 19 special election.
Assembly Speaker Karen Bass, a Los Angeles Democrat, has already alerted representatives from the Schwarzenegger administration of the committee’s meeting schedule.
Traditionally, conference committees are the mechanism used to reconcile the differences in the two separate budgets created by the Senate and the Assembly.
But because the budget signed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger on February 20 covers the fiscal year beginning July 1, the actions the conference committee will take amend an already existing spending plan.
Traditionally, budget conference committees are comprised of three members from each house – two members of the majority party, one from the minority party.
This conference committee will contain five members from the Senate and five from the Assembly, Bass said. Three Democrats and two Republicans from each house.
The first hearing will be an overview of the fiscal situation by the Department of Finance, the Legislative Analyst’s office, the state treasurer and the state controller.
May 22, May 26, May 27 and May 28 are scheduled to hear public testimony.
Lawmakers approved a budget in February aimed at closing a gap between spending and revenue of $42 billion. Its details were worked out in private negotiations between the GOP governor and legislative leaders. No public hearings were held.
The committee could begin voting on elements of a new budget on June 1.
Committee membership is not known although, traditionally, the chair and vice chair of each house’s budget committee are included.
That would place Assemblywoman Noreen Evans, a Santa Rosa Democrat, on the conference committee as well as the lower house’s budget committee vice-chair, Roger Niello, a Sacramento Republican.
In the Senate those two posts belong to Denise Ducheny, a San Diego Democrat, and Robert Dutton, a Rancho Cucamonga Republican.
Filed under: Budget and Economy
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