What Budget Did the Legislature Pass on June 15?
Examining the prepared statements and floor speeches of various lawmakers in the wake of the passage of a budget bill June 15 it’s hard to tell what was actually voted on.
Sen. Bill Emmerson, a Hemet Republican who is the vice-chair of the upper house’s budget committee, said the spending blueprint was “full of borrowing and gimmicks.”
Rather than reducing state’s expenses, spending is up by $13 billion over last year, Emmerson said.
The chair of the Senate Budget Committee – San Francisco Democrat Mark Leno – saw it this way:
“The Senate has passed an honest, on-time budget that will help get California back onto the path of financial security. This plan restores long-term fiscal stability with a balanced budget this year and the three following years.”
That’s not the assessment of Sen. Jean Fuller, a Bakersfield Republican, who said the budget was “unbalanced.”
Like Emmerson, she said the spending plan was marbled with gimmickry and based on faulty assumptions.
“Californians expect more from their elected officials and I expect the Governor to veto this budget in favor of one that is truly balanced,” Fuller said in a statement.
On the floor, Fuller said she had a “sinking feeling in her heart,” that lawmakers would have to return in November after voters reject Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed temporary tax increase, upon whose passage the budget passed June 15 is premised.
Fuller noted that by including $5.5 billion in cuts to public schools that will automatically take effect if voters reject the tax plan is akin to “holding a gun to the heads of our children.”
“Today’s action … balances the budget and puts California on track to have a balanced budget every year for the next few years, ultimately resulting in a $2 billion reserve in the 2015-2016 fiscal year,” Perez said. “Putting our fiscal house in order is necessary if we are to engage in the planning and long-term investments in areas like infrastructure, education and 21st century job creation.”
Sen. Tom Harmon, a Huntington Beach Republican, didn’t share Perez’s assessment.
“This budget relies on the unreliable assumption that voters will increase their own taxes come November,” Harmon said. “This is the biggest gimmick of all. No reforms, increased spending and nothing to bring jobs. It’s a loser.
“Until this Legislature devotes as much time and energy to reforming government and creating jobs as it does working to raise taxes, there’s little hope we’ll ever salvage our state’s finances.”
Assemblyman Roger Dickinson, a Sacramento Democrat, thought the decisions made in the budget were “tough” but the cuts “which reduce indispensable services for our most vulnerable Californians and which reduce access to justice are troubling.”
Still, Dickinson concludes, the budget is “balanced, responsible, and on time.”
Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff of Diamond Bar said the budget was “structurally imbalanced,” held “school kids hostage” and, in sum, “no good.”
In contrast, Senate President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg, a Sacramento Democrat, said Legislature carried out its responsibility to pass a budget that’s “balanced, intelligent and compassionate to those who are struggling in tough economic times.”
Maybe it’s like Groucho Marx says: “All people are born alike except Republicans and Democrats.”
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