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As the June 15th constitutional deadline for the passage of the budget approaches, it appears it will, once again, come down to the final hours of doom day.
The Senate took up and passed about 10 budget trailer bills as of this writing, as well as the main budget bill, which was dubbed the “budget bill, junior.” AB 98 amends AB 69, the main budget bill passed in March, and is essentially the Senate Democrats budget proposal. All of the measures passed with a party line vote of 24-15.
The most controversial part of the Democrat’s budget package is a bill that would continue the tax extensions proposed by the Governor for 12 months until an election can be called for voters to approve or deny extending the taxes for 5 years. This bridge tax was debated at length this afternoon by the Senate, but ultimately failed passage with a vote of 22-15. Three Democratic Senators—Correa, Rubio and Yee—did not cast a vote. The bill was granted reconsideration so it could be taken up again this weekend or next week.
The Senate will likely continue to negotiate over the weekend, but it is unknown whether they plan to stay in town and hold floor sessions. The Assembly will take the measures up sometime next week, after their respective caucuses meet.
Republicans say they are close to reaching an agreement with the Governor on a special election; however, they still want some concessions on a spending cap, pension reform and regulatory rollbacks. The Governor is said to be in favor of a bridge tax, but only for 3 months until a special election in September. The Governor has been very open to different solutions and “asks” from Republicans to secure their votes; however, it is entirely possible that, even if the Governor and Republicans cut a deal, the Democratic legislators could blow it up.
If the Legislature does not pass a budget by June 15th, they will no longer receive their pay. Furthermore, if no bridge tax is approved, legislators will be forced to decide between $9.6 billion in spending cuts -- on top of the $11 billion they've already made -- and reverting to gimmick-laden schemes.
Adding to the pressure is the release of the draft redistricting maps from the Citizens’ Redistricting Commission (see next story). Members have seen variations of the maps and are analyzing how their budget vote(s) may affect their future in the Legislature in their new districts. While these maps are not finalized, they are certainly weighing on members minds as they contemplate budget decisions.
As indicated above, this will likely all come down to the wire. Stay tuned…