California nears budget deal to meet deadline. Critics pan it as 'gimmicks.'
California legislators will have to begin to forfeit their salaries if they don't pass a state budget Wednesday. To meet the deadline, legislators are rushing through a deal that could test Gov. Jerry Brown's campaign promise not to sign a 'smoke and mirrors' budget.
(Page 2 of 2)
“While [Prop. 25] punishes legislators – by not paying them – for failing to agree on a budget, does it also force them to hastily rush to compromise?” Ms. Levinson asks.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Other analysts answer that question, “yes.”
“On the one hand, lawmakers don't want to vote for pain. On the other hand, they want to keep their own paychecks. Their solution to this dilemma is to engage in the same kind of tricks that they've always used,” says Jack Pitney, professor of government at Claremont McKenna College.
Republicans have dug in their heels for months, refusing to give Brown the four legislative votes he needs to put a tax-extension question before voters, another major campaign promise. Brown had touted that tax extension as the way to eliminate roughly half of the California budget deficit. The other half was addressed earlier this year when Brown signed $11.2 billion in cuts.
Republicans, however, have said that Brown must accept state spending caps and revise the state’s pension system to get their votes.
“Brown … lacks the political fortitude necessary to include any of the publicly popular reforms Republican lawmakers are proposing,” said California Republican Party Chairman Tom Del Beccaro in a statement. “He’s obviously terrified at the prospect of crossing his political masters, the public employee unions.”
Republicans are criticizing a rushed budget.
“Make no mistake, this Democrat budget isn’t about solving California’s fiscal problems – its only goal is to ensure lawmakers keep their paychecks flowing,” said George Runner, a member of the California State Board of Equalization, in a statement. “It was never the voter’s intention for lawmakers to approve a sham budget simply to keep their paychecks coming.”
Democratic Senate leader, Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, has said: “It is important that we meet the budget deadline. We will meet the deadline.”
If the Legislature does pass the budget Wednesday, it will be the first on-time budget since 1986. Brown has 12 days to sign any budget presented to him.