Democrats pass California budget; issue not yet over

June 15, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Democratic lawmakers have approved a new state budget, but the issue is far from resolved. Republicans call the plan incomplete, and it's unlikely Gov. Jerry Brown will sign it.

Democrats passed the budget using majority vote powers voters gave them under Proposition 25 in 2010. No Republican votes were necessary.

By approving the main spending plan before the midnight deadline, they get to keep their entire paycheck, although leaders deny the possibility of lost wages for a late budget was the motivator.

But technically, the budget plan approved is incomplete. A host of trailer bills that explain how cuts will be carried out still need approval. Those couldn't be voted on because the governor hasn't given his blessing.

"We acknowledge that we still have some more work to do in terms of negotiating with the governor," Senate Democratic leader Darrell Steinberg said.

The governor and Democratic leaders have yet to agree on how deeply to cut welfare, how many home care hours to take away from the elderly and disabled, and whether to eliminate Cal Grants for students attending private colleges.

In-home care providers held a vigil in the Capitol during the vote, hoping Brown adopts less severe cuts.

"You've got to stop cutting from the poor," said Tammy Stiles, an in-home care worker.

Besides the incomplete budget, Republicans point out it relies on $8.5 billion worth of new taxes and assumes voters will pass them. That vote is still more than four months away.

"If you think the voters are going to give you your tax increases come November, and all you offer them is this sham, you are sadly out of touch," said Republican Sen. Tom Berryhill of Modesto.

Some lawmakers say a budget that's incomplete and relies on new taxes that may not come through should equal a dock in pay.


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