an after the last minute update:
NO STATE BUDGET, BUT SENATORS TO TRY AGAIN THIS WEEK
GOP members maintain their opposition but agree to offer a plan of their own at midweek, when the upper house convenes again.
by Evan Halper. LA Times Staff Writer
Sunday, July 22, 2007 - SACRAMENTO — State senators went home Saturday morning after an all-night lockdown failed to force a budget agreement, with the exasperated Senate leader ordering GOP members to return midweek with their own spending plan.
The senators read books and magazines, listened to music and mostly just sat around through the previous night. Some of the Republicans posted notes ridiculing the lockdown to a conservative blog that has become a rallying point. By midmorning everyone was dismissed with no deal in place, pushing the budget impasse into a fourth week.
"We've reached the end of our rope," said Senate Leader Don Perata (D-Oakland). "I do not understand what they are after…. If those 15 Republicans want to stop state government, they are on their way to doing it."
The Senate Republicans continue to ignore Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's call to sign off on the $145-billion bipartisan budget approved Friday by the Assembly. The GOP lawmakers say that budget plan spends too much. But they have been unclear about where they would make about $700 million in additional spending reductions they demand.
Senate Republican Leader Dick Ackerman of
"We are going to try to fashion a budget," he said. "We will have a proposal."
Ackerman said his caucus will not sign off on a budget package resembling the one passed with support of Republicans in the Assembly. The lower house has since adjourned for a month, with its leaders vowing not to cut recess short to consider changes to the spending bill. Ackerman called on the Assembly to return.
As drowsy senators left the Capitol on Saturday, pressure on Republicans mounted. The governor warned that cutting as deeply into spending as the Republicans are demanding would mean scaling back funding to schools, something Schwarzenegger said he will not support.
"I remain firm in my commitment that we not cut education funding," he said.
The governor had earlier promised to use his line-item veto authority once the budget is passed to make some additional cuts that would appease the GOP. But the Republican senators say they are unconvinced that such a move would reduce spending enough.
Administration officials said that they were trying to help negotiate a deal but that Republicans had been unclear about what additional cuts they wanted to make, leaving discussions in limbo.
Individual Republicans, meanwhile, rebuffed invitations to meet with the governor late Friday night. In years past governors have occasionally managed to extract GOP votes for a budget from an otherwise obstinate caucus. Passage of a spending plan in the Senate requires at least two GOP votes. This year, the Senate GOP caucus has made a pact that none of its members will vote for a budget until the caucus as a whole agrees it would be appropriate.
One member appears to be wavering, however. Abel Maldonado (R-Santa Maria), a moderate, has been abstaining from casting a budget vote, rather than joining his colleagues in voting against the Assembly plan.
As the rest of the Republicans dig in, school groups have begun calling individual lawmakers, urging them to compromise. The Democrats have already agreed to hundreds of millions of dollars in reductions to public transportation, welfare, drug treatment and other programs. Education spending accounts for nearly half of the budget, and educators warn that any further cuts will hit schools.
Education groups also warn that unless a budget is in place soon, schools won't receive state money they need for the fall semester.
The effort to block the budget "creates confusion and concern for our school districts, which will be starting fall term in just a few weeks," said state Supt. of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell.
Conservative activists, meanwhile, told the lawmakers to hold their ground.
"You 15 are officially martyrs for all
Just before Saturday, Sen. Jim Battin (R-La Quinta) sent in a posting. "We've been locked in, and there are sergeants at every exit making sure we can't leave," he wrote. "I slept in a chair for about an hour (and btw — Dennis Hollingsworth [(R-Murrieta)] snores :/). Ah-Democracy at work…. It's all rather quite embarrassing."
Also posted on the blog was an attack on the governor by Sen. Tom McClintock (R-Thousand Oaks): "He sided with liberal Democrats in refusing to balance the state budget."
Sen. George Runner (R-Lancaster) blogged that if Assembly Republicans "had chosen to learn more from their colleagues in the Senate who have gone through more than one or two budgets, we might have a true 'fiscally responsible' budget to vote on."
He also took a swipe at their decision to leave town: "Now is the time to put our vacation plans aside, get back to
ASSEMBLY RECESS CONSTITUTIONAL?
By Judy Lin –
Bee Capitol Alert Sacramento
Saturday, July 21, 2007
After a long night with no progress to speak of on the budget, Democrats and Republicans in the Senate agree: The Assembly negotiated a flawed tax credit package when they struck their deal. Now Republican senators are demanding changes in the overall plan, which would require the Assembly to reconvene.
The Speaker's Office has already said members won't come back, no way, no how.
But can the Assembly stay away for then entire four weeks of summer recess? Maybe not.
Under Article IV, Section 7, Part D of the state Constitution, "Neither house without the consent of the other may recess for more than 10 days to any other place."
The joint rules - house procedures adopted by both houses - backs up the law of the land. "This recess shall not commence until the Budget Bill is passed."
Assembly spokesman Steve Maviglio says the rule is unenforceable.
"The constitution also says we are required to have a budget by June 15th -- that's the one that the holdout Senate Republicans need to focus on instead of making excuses for their failure to do what Assembly Democrats and Republicans have done by passing a balanced budget that has the support of the governor and Senate Democrats.
The legislative counsel has opined in the past that this provision is (inapplicable) and unenforceable," Maviglio said in an e-mail.
SENATE ADJOURNS BUDGET TALKS UNTIL WEDNESDAY: Republicans want the deficit cut further; Assembly closes shop.
By Judy Lin and Jim Sanders –
Senate Democrats on Saturday morning ended a night-long lock down over the already-overdue state budget and adjourned until Wednesday.
A FINE MESS ENTANGLES LATE BUDGET
by Dan Walters –
The convoluted, multifaceted and almost impenetrable political thicket surrounding the state budget recalls a line in movies made by 1930s comedians Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy.
When the two loonies would find themselves in some seemingly intractable dilemma, Hardy would turn to
Plug in Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata and Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez, and you get the idea.
Núñez created the fine mess when he more or less caved into Republican demands to reduce the state's chronic budget deficit and enact a multibillion-dollar package of tax breaks for various business groups. The Assembly passed the budget bills and the tax bill about Friday and then adjourned for a month, with members scattering across the globe.
Hours earlier, Perata had denounced the tax breaks for giving away millions to business while tax credits for teachers were being eliminated and benefits to the aged, blind and disabled were being scaled back to narrow the budget gap. "How could you throw them over for
After the Assembly passed the tax breaks anyway, Perata declared them to be dead-on-arrival in the Senate. "It's an irresponsible action to take in the dark of night, without any debate or discussion," Perata said, later adding that it appeared to have been "written by chimpanzees." Republican senators refused to back it, as well, because it inadvertently wiped out a longstanding research tax credit and, eventually, Núñez admitted it was drafted incorrectly.
Republican senators were a little scornful of their Assembly counterparts. "It appears to be that the Assembly was too quick to go on vacation," Sen. George Runner, R-Lancaster, observed, saying of GOP Assembly members: "I just think they were snookered."
The dustup over taxes, however, was just one aspect of the mess. More fundamentally, Republican senators demanded tighter restrictions on spending to narrow the operating deficit even more and ease projections of big deficits in future years.
"We've been spending much, much more than we've been taking in," Senate GOP leader Dick Ackerman said as he and other Republicans refused to vote for the package of budget bills late Friday afternoon.
Republicans also had a laundry list of non-financial demands, including curbs on Attorney General Jerry Brown's lawsuits against local governments over growth plans that failed to account for greenhouse gas emissions. Brown described the demand, backed by developers, as "an outrage."
Perata reacted by locking up senators indefinitely, requiring them to remain "on the red carpet" - inside the Senate chambers - and suggesting that they begin thinking about ordering breakfast. When a few GOP senators tried to leave for their offices, Senate sergeants-at-arms locked the chamber's doors and turned them away.
Given the lengthy list of Republican senators' demands, it is very uncertain when - or if - the impasse would be resolved; Perata said he was "done negotiating." But even if there were to be some deal in the Senate, the Assembly's recess would make it very difficult to reconvene that house to complete budget action.
Even before the Senate met, a Núñez spokesman declared that "we're not coming back under any circumstances" and if the impasse continued, "the Senate will have to live with that."
Núñez, however, also would have to live with a prolonged impasse that would alienate voters further and dim prospects for passing a Núñez-backed ballot measure to ease legislative term limits.
OOPS! ASSEMBLY MEMO SAYS TAX-CUT BILL ACTUALLY SUNSETS EXISTING INCENTIVES
By Shane Goldmacher –
Bee Capitol Alert Sacramento
Friday, July 20, 2007
In a memo to the Senate sent on Friday, Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez and Assembly Republican leader Mike Villines reveal that the centerpiece of the tax-cut plan passed in the wee hours of the morning was miswritten and the legislation, Senate Bill 98, "inadvertently" applied a sunset clause to "existing research and development provisions of
The tax cut proposal had already received a cold shoulder in the Senate on Friday, where Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata said the bill looked as if it had been "written by chimpanzees."
In a letter sent to Núñez late Thursday night, Perata urged the speaker not to include tax cuts for businesses in the budget.
"We have surrendered $185 (million) in teacher tax credits to balance the budget!!!" Perata wrote. "How could you now throw them over for
Specifically, the tax incentives, according to Villines' office, will promote research and development, keep more of the film industry in
But the section covering research and development tax credits in SB 98 was subject to a "drafting error," according to the memo obtained by Capitol Alert.
"One particular area of emphasis in Senate Bill 98 is the area of research and development tax credits, and in particular conforming
"All parties to the debate, discussion and drafting of SB 98 agree that this was not the intended result," the memo continues.
Núñez and Villines, however, hold firm that the Assembly has adjourned for summer recess and will not return until mid-August.
"As Speaker and Assembly Republican Leader, respectively, we are pleased to have been able to come to agreement on a significant tax incentive and economic stimulus package. Upon our return from the Summer Recess, we will take the necessary steps to correct any concerns or inadvertent consequences due to this drafting error," the memo concludes.
Meanwhile, the Senate, in an initial vote, has rejected the budget passed by the Assembly in a party-line vote, with Republicans opposed.
Below is the full memo:
TO: Interested Parties
FROM: Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez
Assembly Republican Leader Mike Villines
RE: Drafting Error in Senate Bill 98 Related to Research and Development Credit
We write both to bring to your attention an inadvertent drafting error by Legislative Counsel in Senate Bill 98, which passed off the Assembly Floor last night with strong bipartisan support, and to express our mutual understanding to address this drafting error in August.
As you know, SB 98 contains numerous provisions, all of which provide enhanced taxpayer incentives to bring new jobs and capital investment to
However, in the final draft of Senate Bill 98, a technical drafting error inadvertently applied this five-year sunset to the existing research and development provisions of
As Speaker and Assembly Republican Leader, respectively, we are pleased to have been able to come to agreement on a significant tax incentive and economic stimulus package. Upon our return from the Summer Recess, we will take the necessary steps to correct any concerns or inadvertent consequences due to this drafting error.
By Dan Weintraub –
Bee Captiol Alert Sacramento July 18, 2007
The LA Times reports this morning that Republicans have proposed to "slash" aid to the schools by $400 million and the Democrats say that will happen, essentially, over their dead bodies. The school lobby is deeply disappointed in the Republicans for considering such a thing.
Nothing against my friends at the LAT, since the Republicans deserve to be slapped when they whisper this stuff in private rather than explaining it to all in the light of day, but a little more context might help here. It sounds as if the Republicans might be talking about adjusting the Prop. 98 estimate for the coming year. That estimate is tied in part to the state's revenues. In May, Schwarzenegger increased the Prop. 98 number for 07-08 to reflect higher projections for tax revenues in the coming year. Then before the ink was dry on those numbers, the actual tax collections started coming up short, to the tune of $800 million already in just May and June.
The Democrats' budget "slashed" about $400 million from the schools to reflect those lower revenues in the current year, but kept with Schwarzenegger's assumption for the minimum in the coming year. If you assume that the lower than expected revenues in May and June will be continue in soft collections in the rest of 2007 and 2008, you would also expect the Prop. 98 minimum to be a bit lower. I'm guessing that is what the Republicans have suggested.
Now let's look again at the "slash."
When the budget was approved last summer, the schools stood to get $55.1 billion from state and local taxes, a ten percent increase over the amount originally budgeted the year before -- despite essentially zero growth in enrollment.
The governor's May revision increased the current year amount by $371 million to reflect the higher revenues, and proposed $57.6 billion for the coming year.
The Democrats' plan approved by the conference committee backed out that extra $371 million for this year.
If, indeed, the Republicans are now proposing $400 million less for next year, that would mean the schools budget would grow from $55.1 billion to $57.2 billion, an increase of $2.1 billion, or just under 4 percent.
K-12 attendance, by the way, is expected to decline by about 28,000 from this year to next.
BUDGET LATE AGAIN - WHAT'S NEW?
By Dan Walters –
Bee Capitol Alert Sacramento
Thursday, July 5, 2007
Capitol legend has it that the state's politicians can't enact a new state budget until the temperature in
Triple-digit temperatures arrived this week, so that impediment, if it exists, has vanished. But there are no indications, as yet, that the three-way budget wrangle involving Democratic and Republican legislators and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who's caught in the middle, will be resolved quickly.
It's an old story in the Capitol. Although the governor and lawmakers produced an on-time budget last year, thanks to a surge of revenues, that was the first time the state had a budget on place for the July 1 beginning of the fiscal year since 2000 and only the fourth time in the last two decades, according to a chart prepared by the Department of Finance.
The latest a budget was enacted, at least since 1977, was
Schwarzenegger's revised budget is available here.
If you want a summary of what the Democrats want in the budget, contrasting with Schwarzenegger's major proposals, it's available here.
By Dan Walters –
Bee Capitol Alert Sacramento
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger crows loudly and often about how "post-partisanship" is the Capitol's new operating credo and that he and the Legislature's Democrats are working together on the state's knottiest issues.
A new poll, however, indicates that Californians, both voters and nonvoters, are increasingly skeptical about the ability of Schwarzenegger and Democratic lawmakers to perform as promised - even though they continue to give the Republican governor very high approval ratings.
The poll is the latest in a frequent series of attitudinal surveys by the foundation-supported Public Policy Institute of California, and among its other findings is the increasing preoccupation of Californians with illegal immigration.
"Immigration tops just about everyone's list of the most important issues facing
PPIC president Mark Baldassare finds that fixation puzzling, since the state has almost no power to affect immigration, legal or illegal. "State leaders cannot make immigration policy but they will continue to feel the fallout of voter discontent over its effects."
The poll found strong support for immigration reform, especially for the general thrust of the measure being pushed by President Bush to give illegal immigrants a pathway to legalization - although Bush's own popularity in
Of more immediate concern to the Capitol's politicians is the poll's finding that Californians are becoming somewhat disenchanted with their performance - which may stem, the poll indicates, from the upbeat promises that Schwarzenegger and legislators made earlier in the year about their intention to attack health care and other pithy issues.
That could be bad news for Democratic legislative leaders who want voters to pass a measure to loosen up on legislative term limits. The Legislature's popularity is scarcely half of Schwarzenegger's, and he's been threatening to oppose the term limits measure if Democrats refuse to overhaul the process of drawing new legislative and congressional districts after the decennial census.
The survey found that Californians generally endorse Schwarzenegger's health care proposal, including mandatory coverage and "shared responsibility" among consumers, government, employers and health care providers for the cost.
Other findings include strong support for abortion rights, a nearly even division on same-sex marriage and continuing support for Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Rudy Giuliani for their parties' presidential nominations.
The survey can be accessed here