Exercising their new majority-vote authority, California Democrats on Tuesday closed the remainder of what had been a gaping budget deficit, relying on a combination of deep spending cuts, optimistic revenue projections and new fees that are sure to be challenged in court.
The Legislature sent a nearly $86 billion spending plan for the fiscal year that begins Friday to Gov. Jerry Brown. He was certain to sign it because he struck the compromise with his fellow Democrats days earlier, after failing to get Republican support for tax increases.
The package closed the remaining $9.6 billion deficit, but did so in a way that displeased both parties.
Republicans criticized the projections of greater-than-expected tax revenue and questioned the legality of new fees, while Democrats were angry about having to make deep cuts to higher education, welfare, social service programs and other core state services.
"This plan is best described as making the best out of a bad situation," said Assemblyman Bob Blumenfield, D-Sherman Oaks, chairman of the Assembly Budget Committee.
The budget passed the Assembly first on a 51-25 vote and then got the bare majority needed in the Senate: 21 votes.
The Legislature acted with unusual haste to pass a budget before the start of the fiscal year July 1. An initiative passed by voters last fall allows Democrats to pass a budget with a simple majority vote but also halts lawmakers' pay if they miss their June 15 deadline to pass a balanced budget.
Democrats passed a budget by the deadline, but the state controller determined it was not balanced.