The details might have been sparse, but the message was clear as Democratic leaders put on a united front with the press Monday afternoon to announce they were moving on from budget wrangling with Republicans by coming to an agreement of their own. The governor was joined by Assembly leader John Perez and Senate leader Darrell Steinberg, and Brown stated that their deal was a “good budget” and that “we have come to important conclusions after tough talks.” The governor refused to talk specifics, instead stating that he would go into details after the plan was debated and passed, as Perez and Steinberg promised to deliver the necessary votes. A key component of this new majority-vote budget is an additional $4 billion in revenues, with the governor stating the funds are “over and above what we thought.” The deal also involves significant cuts to education and the judiciary. In addition, the leaders noted that the imperative for revenue is as great as it was before so they will rely on the 2012 initiative process as a way to get the job done.
Steinberg emphasized that the budget was balanced and involved $12 billion in harsh and real cuts. Further cuts ($2.6 billion) will take place in the future, so-called “trigger cuts,” if revenues fail to materialize. It is not clear when a vote on the plan will take place, but reports have circulated that it could take place as early as Tuesday. If the governor signs a budget, then legislators will no longer have their pay docked.
Brown readily acknowledged that the new majority-vote deal with his fellow Democratic leaders was not his Plan A, the proposal that he started with in January, but he dumped much of the blame on Republicans by commenting that they had a “religious reluctance” to dealing with the budget by raising revenues through taxes. Brown stated that even though he thought he was close, “At the end of the day, there was just not a willingness to go along with tax extensions.” Similarly, Steinberg voiced strong sentiments about the contributions of Republicans, stating that “I’m tired of talking about the gang who refuses to govern.” Steinberg said that the GOP had every opportunity to govern in a fair and balanced way.
Steinberg went on to say that Democrats left their comfort zone by agreeing to billions in cuts but that they were forced to deliver alone, calling the Democrats’ plan the “most austere fiscal blueprint Californians have seen in a generation.” The proposal is slated to eliminate the structural deficit over the course of 18 months. Perez commented that the plan will not cause massive job losses that threaten economic recovery and he reiterated that Democrats have not wavered in their belief that new revenues are crucial for addressing the state’s structural deficit, which they will tackle in 2012 through the ballot.
As for realignment, the governor made it a point to say it would be fully funded. The Bee reports: “The new budget includes a tax swap that redirects 1 percentage point of the statewide sales tax to counties for Brown's public safety ‘realignment,’ sources said. Under that plan, the state would redirect lower-level inmates to county jails and shift parole responsibilities. The tax swap has the added effect of reducing the state's Proposition 98 requirement for schools.”
When it comes to redevelopment, the expectation has been all along that budget battling over agencies’ fates would likely head to the courts, and agencies have renewed their vows to fight elimination through litigation if the governor signs a deal that involves nixed agencies. The League of California Cities and the CRA have been in the process of preparing a lawsuit. The deal announced on Monday follows the same terms in the budget package that the governor vetoed on June 16th, as $1.7 billion is slated to be taken from redevelopment.
Senate Republican leader Bob Dutton released the following statement about the deal: “This latest budget is based on the hope that $4 billion in new revenues will miraculously materialize, but does absolutely nothing to change government as usual.”