Democratic Statements on the California Budget Focus on Changing Budget Process—At Least One Commentator is Predicting a Gubernatorial Veto in Statewide TV Address Tonight11 min read

Political writer and long time observer Bill Bradley, who has contacts within the Schwarzenegger Administration, is putting better than even odds on a veto of the budget by Governor Schwarzenegger. This is what he wrote in his column just a few hours ago:

“SCHWARZENEGGER PREPS TELEVISION ADDRESS ON CALIFORNIA BUDGET CRISIS FOR TONIGHT. NWN has learned that Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has reserved television time for a statewide address tonight on California’s chronic budget crisis.

“Specifically, he will address the state budget recently cobbled together by Republican and Democratic legislative leaders, which passed in the middle of the night.

“If I were a betting man, I would head over to Vegas and put my money down on a veto. The first budget veto, I believe, in California history.”

[If you want my opinion on this, I think this would be a disastrous move given how difficult it has been to pass a budget with a two-thirds vote and given the fact that the Governor has not been able to deliver a single vote of either party for any budget proposal other than the one that passed in the wee hours of the morning. Call them into special session if you want, circulate an initiative if you will, but don’t make the people of California suffer any longer as they have in this system designed to fail because of the supermajority needed to pass a budget.]

Here are the comments we have received from elected officials, Republican and Democratic, and labor leaders on the budget:

Senate President pro Tempore-elect Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento)

I want to thank Senator Perata for his outstanding leadership in fighting for the principle that California needs ongoing revenue to support vital public services.

As the next leader of the State Senate, I will fight for a multi-year agenda to change the way we finance state and local government in California. Anything less fails our schools, our economy, the health care system and the environment. The people of this great state deserve better.

We will not settle for simply talking about ‘budget reform.’ It’s time to take this fight directly to Californians, because it’s the people who have the most to lose if we don’t fix this dysfunctional budget process.

Senator Ellen Corbett (D-San Leandro)

This budget protects, at the basic level, key programs serving our children, elderly and persons with disabilities. While tonight’s budget may get us through the next nine months, we have not solved our structural problems and we will likely face a continuing deficit next year. Further, Republicans have used the budget process to undermine critical environmental and labor laws. It seems clear that we will not achieve long-term solutions as long as the two-thirds vote requirement allows the minority party to hold the State hostage.

Senate President pro Tem Don Perata (D-Oakland)

We prevented the most egregious painful cuts to the innocent of our communities and we were able to keep education whole. We did not worsen the problem by doing more borrowing. But having said that, next year the tax increase will be needed once again. The Legislature won’t have all these accounting tricks to plug the holes. We’ve done exactly what the Governor didn’t want to do: We have simply rolled the problem into the next year. But he couldn’t get any of the Republicans to vote for a tax increase and so that is where we stand. I didn’t want to answer one more phone call or run into one more person in my district who was crying, literally, because their child care program had quit or somebody was not receiving the service that they need. We were hurting the very people that Democrats come to Sacramento to serve, so it was time to end it.

Assembly Speaker Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles)

This isn’t a budget we should be thrilled about, it’s not the kind of budget we should have and it’s not the kind of budget we will have. But it ends the delay. It stops the pain. It allows the wheels of real reform to start moving.

This budget takes a balanced approach of revenue and spending solutions. We funded education at a stronger level than any of the competing plans and held to the fair conference committee line on health and human services. And we rejected unworkable spending straitjackets and an unconscionable sales tax cut that would have blown massive holes in future budgets.

The tyranny of the minority when it comes to budgeting for this state and providing for our future must end. When the majority of Californians and the majority of their duly elected representatives support a responsible budget but that budget can’t overcome the 2/3 hurdle then there’s something wrong. With this year’s record-setting budget delay the anti-tax, anti-government, anti-services crowd has overreached and overestimated the patience of the people. And that will help lead to the change we need.

[Bass also said she would continue to push for a bipartisan tax modernization commission that she unveiled when taking the Speakership in mid-May.]

California relies on a revenue structure designed for the 1930s. Make no mistake, that too is about to end.

Assemblymember Noreen Evans (D-Santa Rosa), Chair of the Assembly Democratic Caucus and the Chair-designate of the Assembly Budget Committee

It’s been a long, strange trip getting to this day. This budget prevents real harm to real people. If Republicans had their way, basic services for the most vulnerable of Californians would have been decimated. Because of Democrats, this budget protects in-home care for seniors and safety nets for the poor and disabled. We also shot down the Republican plan for a spending cap, which made about as much sense as a cap on need.

This budget and the delay in adopting it show the extreme dysfunction of our budgeting process. Because they hold veto power under California’s two-third vote requirement, Republicans intentionally held the state hostage in return for extremist demands. In the end, we had to make tough choices to satisfy some demands of the minority party. Unfortunately, this tyranny of the minority ensures that we’ll face other extremist demands next year.

Assemblymember Lois Wolk (D-Davis)

The best you can say about this budget is that it’s done. We have managed to keep our schools funded without raiding funds from local government and transportation. That’s good.

The disappointing part is that we have only, as the Governor says, kicked the can further down the road. We failed to address the structural deficit and next year’s budget will be even more difficult to solve than this one. Yes, this is a compromise, but it’s not one that anyone should be especially proud of. I’m not.

On the plus side, in addition to avoiding teacher layoffs, I am satisfied that we were able to keep our local law enforcement and rural sheriffs fully funded and prevented some of the most onerous cuts in health services for children and seniors.

This experience has reinforced my belief that we need to reform the budget process as soon as possible. Allowing a minority of legislators to hold the Governor and the entire state hostage is unacceptable. I am currently working with an independent bipartisan reform effort going on right now called California Forward. This is the most serious reform effort in decades and I am looking forward to supporting their recommendations.

Lieutenant-Governor and Candidate for Democratic Nomination for Governor in 2010 John Garamendi

It’s time for Californians to take a stand for our future and our children’s future. We must modernize our economy, stabilize our budget, reform and fully fund our education programs, establish a universal health care system, address the threat of climate change and adapt our water and transportation systems to the reality of the new and changing environment.

We are still the sixth wealthiest economy in the world, but we will not be so highly ranked unless we reestablish the successful California tradition of investing in both the public and the private sectors. We cannot allow a continuation of the gridlock caused by the Republicans’ refusal to adequately fund those investments that create economic growth and social advancement. The two-thirds vote requirement must end along with the ideology that we can continue to cut essential services and education and end up with a vibrant economy and a peaceful society.

Sadly the budget compromise does nothing to advance any of these critical tasks. While it is long past the time to end the budget impasse, the compromise before the California Legislature is a sad and sorry excuse for a budget. This budget “kicks the can down the road” because it does nothing to solve the structural deficit; it does nothing to fund or to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of our poorly performing education system, the prison system or any other state program. It uses accounting gimmicks and borrowing to plug the hole.

One thing that this budgets guarantees is that within five months the whole mess will be repeated. We are after all Californians. We built this great state and we certainly can do better.

Art Pulaski, Executive Secretary-Treasurer, California Labor Federation

Real Cuts and Fake Solutions Hurt Working Families

What the legislature passed today is a budget packed with nothing but cuts and gimmicks – exactly what the governor and legislature promised not to do. It relies on sleight of hand and downright thievery from those who can least afford it, while digging our budget hole even deeper. This ‘no new taxes’ budget really means ‘let the grandkids pay for it later.’

On top of billions of dollars in cuts, this budget deal includes an unconscionable takeaway of workers’ right to overtime pay. This takeaway does absolutely nothing to solve California’s budget problems. It does, however, amount to a pay cut for workers already struggling in this sour economy.

The fact that this deal was three months overdue and had more smoke and mirrors than a David Copperfield show is a direct result of our broken budget process. Unless we change the threshold to pass budgets and raise revenues, we’ll never move beyond real budget cuts and fake budget solutions.

The budget passed today does not represent the values of California’s working families. It may let the governor and legislature get out of town, but it shouldn’t let them escape responsibility for its sorry contents.

Executive Director Courtni Pugh, SEIU California State Council

California faced a crisis this year. We needed our legislators to step up, be realistic, and make a practical compromise that included new revenue. Instead, Inflexible Republicans gave us a record-breaking deadlock that ended only with this deeply disappointing budget of gimmicks, future borrowing, and devastating cuts… And at a time of economic insecurity, when our safety net needs to be strengthened, we continue to shred the basic services that people need to survive hard times. Cutting back on the workers who process claims for Medi-Cal and food stamps will result in higher caseloads, longer wait times and untold hardship.

Senate Republican Leader Dave Cogdill (R-Fresno)

This is a compromise that makes sense for California. Today, the legislature passed a spending plan that will protect jobs and not raise taxes – which is something Republicans have asked for all along. Our priority has always been to help Californians struggling with higher prices and an uncertain job market. We feel very strongly that any tax increase would be a fatal blow to our already weakened economy. Today the legislature passed a budget that protects education and public safety without raising taxes.

Senator Sam Aanestad (R-Grass Valley)

This budget is not a win for anyone. No tax hikes are a given in the current state of this economy, with gas prices and basic commodities at record highs and thousands of homes falling into foreclosure. The thing is – we could have negotiated this deal back in June.

Assembly Republican Leader Michael Villines (R-Clovis)

This budget compromise does not raise taxes on California’s hard working families and ends the stalemate that has hurt many in our state. While this compromise Includes Republican priorities, including fully funding our schools and protecting public safety, it leaves many tough decisions unresolved. We cannot sit back while our budget problems grow out of hand again. We must continue to approach our long-term budget problems with urgency and work together to make the fiscally-responsible decisions that will get California back on track.

Assembly Budget Vice-Chair Roger Niello (R-Sacramento)

While this budget compromise ends our state’s record budget deadlock, much work remains in the coming months to solve our long-term budget problems once and for all. Strengthening our rainy day fund is a good first step that will help us save for the future, but the only way to truly end the budget madness is by limiting state spending, which will force the Legislature to stop overspending. Republicans will continue to fight for budget reform until a true spending limit is established. Contact:

Assemblymember John Benoit (R-Palm Desert)

In the midst of an already-suffering economy, we have successfully protected Californians from one of the largest tax Increases in State history. I propose that we continue the momentum and unity from this compromise and examine how government services can best be delivered with our limited resources. I am prepared to begin working on next year’s budget, starting immediately.