• Legislature Returns Today
• Important Deadline Approaches For Final Action On Bills For 2008 Session
With California now 34 days without a budget, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and the four State Senate and Assembly leaders met early Sunday evening (August 3), though by the meeting’s end, no budget deal was near. Assembly Speaker Karen Bass (Democrat – Los Angeles) said talks would continue through the week but insisted that the $15 billion budget deficit could not be closed by cuts alone.
The Governor met with Assembly Speaker Bass, Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata (Democrat – Oakland), Senate Republican Leader Dave Cogdill (Republican – Fresno), and Assembly Republican Leader Mike Villines (Republican – Clovis) for about an hour and a half.
Legislative Leaders Say Talks Will Continue – Hopeful for Agreement Before End of August
Legislative leaders from both parties have indicated last week that they were hopeful of a budget agreement before the end of August.
Assembly Speaker Bass said that the Governor and legislative leaders would “continue to work” but that the “hang-up is a $15 billion deficit” that the State “cannot solve that deficit with cuts alone”.
Sen. Cogdill said the Sunday meeting “was a step in the right direction” but emphasized again that legislative Republicans “don’t believe in raising taxes” especially during a time when the State’s economy is bad.
Budget Passage Needs Republican Votes
In California, passage of a state budget requires “super majority” votes – 2/3rds approval in both houses.
In the Assembly, 54 votes (out of 80 members are needed to pass a budget. Democrats control 48 seats and Republicans hold 32. That means 6 Republican votes are needed, assuming all 48 Democrats vote for a budget.
In the State Senate, 27 votes (out of 40 State Senators) are needed to pass a budget. Democrats control 25 seats and Republicans control 15. Assuming all 25 Democrats vote for a budget, at least 2 Senate Republicans are also needed
Crisis Will Get Worse In Coming Weeks if Budget Delay Continues
The Governor’s executive order last Thursday that temporarily state worker pay to the federal minimum wage and lays off as many as 10,000 temporary state workers, has increased pressure on policymakers to reach an agreement.
State Controller John Chiang, the independent state elected official who is responsible for cutting the payroll checks to state workers, said he would refuse to implement the Governor’s order to reduce wages unless a court ordered him to do so. The State Controller however cannot halt the laying off of temporary state workers.
Officials at the Department of Developmental Services have said that the Governor’s order would not have significant impact on community-based services to children and adults with developmental disabilities, or those in developmental centers.
Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of people with disabilities, mental health needs and seniors will soon be facing wide spread reduction in community-based services with the State unable to pay or in some cases continue paying community providers, until a budget is passed. Other providers, who have been without state funding since mid-July, have taken out short term loans – though many are facing or soon will be facing a new crisis in meeting payroll and other costs as loans are tapped out. Some providers are not able to secure loans or loans that will cover costs past August.
Advocates Worry About A Budget Agreement That Will Mean More Cuts
Disability, senior and other advocates, while worried about the impact of a continued budget delay on critical services and supports, also fear that additional cuts will be agreed to in order to win the 6 Assembly Republican votes and 2 Senate Republican votes that are needed to pass a budget.
The budget proposal as pushed by legislative Democrats in June, restored many – but not all – of the cuts that Governor Schwarzenegger originally proposed in January and also in May, and included over $8 billion in new revenues, including some new taxes. Republicans have pushed a budget that would contain all of the Governor’s proposed cuts in January and May, and also new cuts and borrowing – but no new revenues or taxes. [CDCAN will issue a report this week outlining the details of the proposals]
• Both the Assembly and State Senate come back into session this afternoon with committee hearings in the morning and afternoon, after its summer recess. The State Senate is scheduled to convene at 2 PM, and the Assembly at 12 noon.
• Both houses are scheduled to adjourn the 2008 session August 31 – the Senate may in fact adjourn earlier – if a state budget is passed before then.
• No floor votes on the budget have been scheduled – and likely will not be until a budget agreement is reached.
• Deadline to hear and report bills out of Assembly and Senate Appropriations Committee in order to stay alive for any final votes before the end of the 2008 session, is August 15th (Friday).
• The Assembly Appropriations Committee may hold its final hearing to announce which bills will be reported out to the Assembly floor and which bills will be held in committee, August 7th, though that hearing date is “upon call of the chair”.
• The Senate Appropriations Committee has scheduled a hearing for August 4th to hear over 200 Assembly bills – most which will be referred to its “suspense file”. A “suspense file” is a holding place for any bill that committee staff has estimated could cost the State a certain amount of money (in the Senate, that cost is $50,000 or more). The “suspense file” allows the committee chair and the leadership in both houses to prioritize all such bills and then decide which ones can continue for further action on the Assembly or Senate floors – and which bills will remain in committee (which means the bill is dead).
• The Senate Appropriations Committee has not yet scheduled its final hearing when it will announce which bills will be reported out to the Senate floor for further action and which bills it will hold in committee.
The California Disability Community Action Network, is a non-partisan link to thousands of Californians with developmental and other disabilities, people with traumatic brain injuries, the Blind, the Deaf, their families, community organizations and providers, direct care, homecare and other workers, and other advocates to provide information on state (and eventually federal), local public policy issues.