June 13, 2017: CAPITOL PUBLIC RADIO - Mixed Reactions To Budget Deal From California Lawmakers

June 14, 2017

Link to original story HERE:

By Ben Adler

Governor Jerry Brown called the $125 billion general fund spending plan “balanced and progressive,” and Democratic lawmakers agreed.

Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Paramount) said the budget “speaks to Californians' progressive values and helps us to build for the future” while setting aside money in the state's Rainy Day Fund.

“Wonderful, wonderful news,” said Senate Budget Committee Chair Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles), pointing to “major investments in the areas of health care, K-12 education, higher education,” as well as after-school programs, social safety net programs and services for immigrants.

There was even some Republican praise –  at least for the spending plan itself

“On the macroeconomic side, it’s actually a pretty responsible budget,” said Assembly Budget Committee Vice-Chair Jay Obernolte (R-Big Bear).

He said spending is increasing in line with inflation and pointed to the inclusion of Republican priorities like higher payments for Medi-Cal providers and education incentives for welfare recipients.

But Obernolte slammed a last-minute proposal to yank most tax collection duties away from the state’s embattled Board of Equalization.

“It’s unquestioned that reforms are needed,” he said. “However, I think that we’re going way too far in curtailing the power of the board because we are taking away, in addition to their other responsibilities, the fundamental responsibility to represent the taxpayers who elected them.”

Sen. Richard Roth (D-Riverside), who helped craft the Board of Equalization overhaul, countered that it’s needed to “straighten out a hot mess.”

“When you have evidence of a hostile work environment where employees underneath the elected board members feel intimidated...you have board members allegedly interfering and getting involved in the adjudication of tax cases and then hearing their appeal, the governor has to take action,” Roth said. 

Republicans are also denouncing a Democratic push to delay an expected recall election of an Orange County state Senator until next June’s primary, which could allow Democrats to maintain their legislative supermajority.

Most – but not all – of the bills that comprise the deal will come up for votes Thursday, the Legislature’s June 15 constitutional budget deadline.

Original Post 9 a.m.: After a couple of false starts – and negotiations that stretched over the weekend – California Gov. Jerry Brown and Democratic legislative leaders say they've reached a state budget deal.

“This budget keeps California on a sound fiscal path and continues to support struggling families and make investments in our schools,” the governor said in a statement released by his office Tuesday morning, calling it a “balanced and progressive budget.”

The announcement, two days before the Legislature's June 15 constitutional budget deadline, was largely a formality. It came nearly a week after a joint Senate-Assembly conference committee approved the bulk of the spending plan – and a day after most of the bills that will comprise the budget package, known as "trailer bills," were posted publicly online.

But sticking points appeared to twice hold up the finalizing of the deal: last Thursday, when the parties could not reach agreement on how to spend more than $1 billion in new tobacco tax revenues after voters approved Proposition 56 last November, and again Monday, when an undisclosed snag caused Senate and Assembly Democrats to cancel media availabilities.

On Monday, CapRadio reported the following:

The spending plan would increase money for K-12 schools, community colleges and the CSU system. But in an unprecedented move, the Legislature will split off the UC president’s office budget from the rest of the university. That’s in response to a blistering state audit that questioned the UC’s budgeting practices.

There’s more money for Medi-Cal providers like doctors, dentists and Planned Parenthood – if the Trump administration signs off. Adult dental services for people on Medi-Cal would be restored as well.

And then there are these two bombshells that went public Monday just three days before Thursday’s scheduled votes: a gutting of most tax collection duties from the state’s embattled Board of Equalization; and a political play from Democrats to delay the date of an expected recall election for an Orange County state Senator until next June’s primary. That’s intended to give Democrats a better chance at holding the seat – and with it, their two-thirds supermajority in the Senate.

CapRadio will provide more updates on the state budget deal throughout the day.