Budget Battle Goes on the Road

With budget negotiations stalled in Sacramento, both political parties are taking their budget arguments on the road in an effort to generate support for a compromise. After the cuts signed into law by Governor Brown last week, California is still is facing a remaining $15.4 billion deficit and Brown is still seeking an election on taxes. 

Brown starts his tour in Riverside and Los Alomitos.  Ironically, these are the Republican districts of two Senators he has been negotiating with over the past month.

Republican and Democratic lawmakers are also launching their own road trips this week.

The California Republican Party has scheduled a multi-stop tour over the next few months, starting Thursday night in Fresno, to oppose Brown's tax plan and call for reductions in pensions and regulations. They also built a website dubbed "Where Are the Jobs, Jerry Brown?"

Democratic leaders said each house will hold budget hearings in the coming weeks around the state, though they didn't specify where the events outside Sacramento would take place. Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, said he wanted to show voters what an "all cuts" budget would look like.

The Assembly Budget Committee also plans to hit the road, according to Assemblyman Bob Blumenfield, D-Woodland Hills. But the Assembly is not taking the same approach as the Senate."We're not entertaining "all cuts' right now," said Blumenfield, the Budget Committee Chairman.

Brown's plan asks voters to extend higher tax rates on vehicles and sales, as well as restore 2009-10 income tax provisions, all to raise $11.2 billion through next June and an estimated $9 billion to $11 billion annually over five years.

Little has changed since talks broke down over disputes on taxes, pension changes and a long-term spending cap, among other issues. In a Senate budget hearing Thursday, lawmakers feuded over the value of public employees and made little headway toward reaching a compromise.

There is yet another issue that is sure to make any budget deal more complex.  The upcoming May revise will likely uncover the fact that the $11 billion in cuts just signed by the Governor will not produce the anticipated savings.  As such, there may well be another $1 to $3 billion budget hole to fill.  That will make any compromise that much more difficult.