Senate finally passes budget

first_imgJune 30, has only been this late twice before, in 2002 and 1992. The impasse began July 20, after the Assembly passed its version of the budget, then went on a month-long recess. In the Senate, one moderate Republican, Sen. Abel Maldonado, R-Santa Maria, decided to back the deal, but the rest of the GOP caucus held firm, with demands such as restrictions on environmental lawsuits, additional funds for some schools and more spending cuts. That left the Legislature one vote short of the necessary two-thirds threshold. A deal appeared to have been reached Monday, but the Republican caucus asked for additional concessions. A majority of the 15-member caucus finally decided to accept a revised deal Tuesday morning. In a symbolic gesture, only Maldonado and Republican Leader Sen. Dick Ackerman, R-Tustin, actually cast votes in favor. While celebrating the end of the impasse, Democrats questioned why Senate Republicans had not come to terms earlier, saying the budget itself was fairly similar to what the Assembly approved a month ago. Some Republicans, however, countered that the concessions they sought could not be approved until the Assembly returned to session on Monday. The protracted delay bruised feelings in the Legislature, and ratcheted up partisan antipathy within the Senate. Rather than expressing relief after the vote, Senate President pro tem Don Perata, D-Oakland, lashed out at Senate Republicans, saying they seemed gleeful in holding up the spending plan, despite the suffering of people dependent on state assistance. He noted that Monday night, seven or eight Republican senators were eating dinner at a steakhouse across from the Capitol, drinking and smoking cigars and “whooping it up” while legislative leaders were trying to hammer out a deal. “When people take glee and delight in failing to allow the job of this Senate to be done, to take glee and delight over people who are suffering because the state had not passed a budget, that is very troubling,” Perata said. “That was probably the biggest embarrassment that I’ve ever faced as an elected official,” he added. Sen. George Runner, R-Lancaster, among those at the dinner, said the characterization was exaggerated. The group was simply waiting for negotiations to conclude so they could be called into session, he said. “Clearly there were negotiations going on,” Runner said. “To point at a group of people who happened to be having dinner seems a bit juvenile. But I’m sure he’s very frustrated.” Meanwhile, on the Assembly side, Nu ez and Republican Leader Mike Villines, R-Clovis, appeared to be getting along well, as Nu ez threw an arm around the minority leader during a press conference, and jokingly greeted him with “Hi, honey.” For Los Angeles, the budget contained mixed blessings. Nu ez managed to secure a specific appropriation of $150 million for a traffic light synchronization program in the city of Los Angeles. Republicans had tried to cut the funding, but in the end it was retained as Nu ez argued the funds were part of the agreement over last year’s infrastructure bond. However, the budget also contains about $230 million less for public transit in Los Angeles County, including the Exposition light-rail project and expansion of bus service. “The mayor looks forward to relieving traffic congestion with the light synchronization funds provided by this budget,” said Matt Szabo, a spokesman for Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. “But he remains committed to securing full transportation funding for Los Angeles in future state budgets.” [email protected] (916)446-6723160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! California’s third-longest state budget impasse ended Tuesday when Senate Republicans finally agreed to a series of side deals and grudgingly granted the single vote needed to get the government machinery back in motion. The $145 billion budget passed through the Legislature by a 27-12 vote, the narrowest possible margin. “It’s a tight-fisted budget for California, but it’s also a budget that those of us who believe in the compassion of the people of this state can be proud of,” said Assembly Speaker Fabian Nu ez, D-Los Angeles. The end to the lengthy stalemate means the state will resume payments to nursing homes, child-care centers, state employees and others who were left without their primary source of income. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is expected to sign the budget soon after receiving it – possibly by Friday – but is also expected to veto about $700 million in spending that he has yet to publicly detail. “It was a challenging process but in the end our legislative leaders came together to deliver a spending plan that does not raise taxes, creates the largest reserve in history, and reduces our operating deficit after the spending vetoes that I have promised,” Schwarzenegger said in a written statement. The concessions that finally won over the GOP senators included a two-year moratorium on environmental lawsuits that would block bond-funded transportation and water projects based on the new greenhouse gas bill approved last year; the governor’s commitment to veto the $700 million in spending; the ability to cut state positions if they remain vacant for six months, rather than the 12 months sought by the Assembly; and allowing bond revenue to be used to help the railroad industry with environmental cleanups. An effort to obtain an additional $130 million for school districts that receive less per-pupil funding was dropped after the lawsuit moratorium was applied to water projects as well as transportation projects. The budget, which is constitutionally due by last_img

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