Shane Goldmacher in LA Times LANow Blog
3:56 PM | July 23, 2009 -- Sacramento -- As they prepare to vote on a budget deal that includes a number of controversial issues, California lawmakers say two of the most significant are oil drilling and borrowing from local governments.
It is unclear when they will vote on the more than two dozen bills that contain the budget agreement, or whether all of them will pass.
The deal allows for the first new oil drilling off the California coast in 40 years. In exchange, the state would receive $100 million in royalties from Plains Exploration & Production Co., the company that would be extracting the oil.
Many Democrats and environmentalists oppose the provision; the chairman of the California Democratic Party has called it a “sweetheart deal.” Most Republicans say they support it.
The plan can pass on a simple majority vote, but Republicans are the minority, so a significant number of Democratic votes would be needed for the provision to pass.
The budget agreement stipulates that the state would borrow $1.9 billion in property taxes, raid local coffers for $1 billion in transportation funds and take $1.7 billion from redevelopment agencies. More than 180 California cities have passed resolutions threatening to sue the state.
Both Democrats and Republicans say they don’t really want to do this but there are few, if any, viable alternatives as they push to close a $26.3-billion deficit.