What should have been a routine correspondence between the respective chairs of the Senate and Assembly Budget Committees Senator Denise Ducheny and Assemblymember Noreen Evans and Finance Director Mike Genest, turned into another embarrassing fiasco for the Schwarzenegger administration on Monday. Mr. Genest acknowledged that the administration had no backup plan if they lost $3.3 billion in current year reductions.
In a letter from Senator Ducheny and Assemblymember Noreen Evans, the budget chairs told the finance director:
”As you know, the California Assembly and a solid majority of the California Senate have supported your Administration’s current-year proposals that would reduce our budget gap by $3.3 billion and improve the State’s cash management and cash flow position for 2009-10. However, these proposals, which are embodied in SB 64 (Budget and Fiscal Review Committee), SB 74 (Budget and Fiscal Review Committee), and SB 80 (Budget and Fiscal Review Committee), have yet to garner the necessary two-thirds votes to pass out of the Senate. If SB 64 and SB 80, in particular, are not passed by the Senate and signed by the Governor by midnight tomorrow, these budget solutions will be lost.
As Chairwomen of the respective Budget Committees, we request that you outline, by close of business today, how your administration specifically plans to fill the $3.3 billion hole through 2009-10, if the measures are not enacted. “
Finance Director Mike Genest then responded:
”I certainly recognize that $3.3 billion of solutions proposed in the May Revision will be lost if certain measures are not enacted into law by tomorrow at midnight….we have not developed a specific plan for addressing the potential loss of these solutions.”
In her own blog, Assemblymember Evan responds to the finance director and overall situation:
“The governor is holding the state hostage. As part of a budget agreement, he has submitted a list of new demands – sweeping policy changes – which could have been submitted with one of any of his four May Revision budget proposals. Now, he wants to reduce what the state contributes in pensions for new hires, change state retiree health care, scale back eligibility for people in the welfare-to-work program, create rules to root out fraud in-home services, and change portions of Medi-Cal.
While I am not averse to discussing these issues, none of them are simple subjects with simple solutions. The governor can’t lose focus on the real problem. His new demands don’t solve the immediate cash crisis. We have 30 hours until California faces financial ruin.
These are disappointing developments. The governor himself has imposed a July 1 deadline for passing a budget revision, yet he continues to throw roadblocks in our way.”