Senate Democrats pass budget bills without GOP support

June 15, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
California Senate Democrats have passed a series of budget bills without Republican support Wednesday. Tax extensions sought by Governor Jerry Brown were not part of the bills.

High vehicle-registration fees and fire-protection surcharges for rural residents are included in the bills. A quarter-cent local sales tax increase was also included.

The bills do not deliver the budget deal that Brown and state Democrats had been seeking to close California's $9.6 billion deficit.

The state Assembly was voting on the bills package Wednesday.

Brown reportedly is still seeking an extension of some expiring tax increases.

Once the budget is passed, the governor would have 12 days to sign it or veto it.

"A majority vote budget without Republican reforms will clearly show that legislative Democrats can't stand up to public employee unions and refuse to listen to the will of the people who want real reforms," said Sen. Bob Dutton, the top Republican in the state Senate.

For 24 of the last 25 years, lawmakers in Sacramento have missed their deadline to pass a budget. But this year is different.

Thanks to a new law just passed by California voters, if lawmakers don't come to an agreement by midnight, they stop getting paid until they do.

Brown has said for months that his ideal budget solution is to ask voters to extend a series of tax increases that are soon set to run out. But to do that, he needs four Republican lawmakers to join him, which had not happened.

The Democratic bills would raise local sales tax rate by .25 percent, raise the car registration fee by $12 a year, require online companies like to start collecting a state sales tax and make residents in rural areas pay more for fire services.

The top Democrat in the state Senate said this is not the budget they want to pass, but they are simply running out of time.

"I hope that it's the governor's plan that what we fought for for months, because it's the best plan," said Sen. Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento). "But either way, you know we are not going to sit on our hands. The people expect us to get our work done and we are going to do it."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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