Archive for March, 2011
Calif. Lawmakers Pass Cuts, but Budget Unfinished
Calif. lawmakers hit pause on budget after passing $14B in cuts, loans; tough choices remain
While the houses adjourned, the legislative leaders instructed lawmakers to remain close to the Capitol throughout the weekend while Brown and Democrats negotiate with Republican lawmakers who willing to engage in talks. Assuming he has the backing of all Democrats, the governor needs two Republican votes in each house to call a special election. Republicans argue that raising taxes would drive employers out of state and harm the economy. “We keep piling more stuff on, more costs of doing business,” said Senate Minority Leader Bob Dutton, R- Rancho Cucamonga. The taxes in question would hit individuals and consumers.
For example, a couple earning $60,000 a year and filing a joint tax return would pay an extra $175 a year if the increase in the personal income tax is allowed to continue. The additional state licensing fee on a 2010 vehicle bought for $20,000 would be $100. GOP members said the state should adopt public employee pension reforms, a cap on state spending and more government efficiencies before seeking to extend the tax increases, which are scheduled to expire this year. “Any budget plan that does not include pension reform is incomplete,” said Assemblyman Brian Jones, R-Santee. Democrats said they fear lawmakers will have to make even more draconian cuts to vital services if voters aren’t asked and don’t agree to extend taxes that will expire this summer. “The decisions we make today are going to hurt,” said Sen. Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles. “These are not … phony cuts. These are real lives, these are real human beings.”
In a sign of the impasse, the Legislature invoked Proposition 25 for the first time Thursday after Republicans would not assure support of bills that would give counties more responsibility over inmates and parolees and make education funding changes. Proposition 25 was approved by voters last fall and changed the legislative vote requirement to pass a budget from two-thirds to a simple majority. The main budget bill also was approved on party-line votes — passing 25-15 in the Senate and 52-26 in the Assembly. Realignment is part of Brown’s plan to have local governments take responsibility for many services now provided by the state, but the bill that would make counties responsible for incarcerating and supervising certain lower-level offenders,
AB109, produced a partisan debate in both houses. Democratic lawmakers said the step was necessary to save money in the state’s expanding corrections system. Corrections spending in the current fiscal year is $9 billion, or about 10 percent of all general fund spending. Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, said the corrections realignment will result in 38,000 fewer inmates in state prisons by 2014. Democrats say the realignment, if enacted, would cut $450 million from the corrections budget in the first fiscal year, with the savings growing to $2 billion over three to four years. Republicans objected that many of the inmates who would be shifted to county jails should be considered violent. They also warned that jail overcrowding would lead local sheriffs to simply release some of the inmates.
“Tell your constituents to get a dog, buy a gun and install an alarm system. The state of California will no longer protect you,” said Sen. Sharon Runner, R- Lancaster. advertisementRead Full Post | Make a Comment ( Comments Off on AB 109; Criminal Justice Realignment Passes – waits Governor’s signature )