Update 2:40 p.m.
More live coverage via twitter from our Sacramento Bureau Chief, John Myers;
The Democrats worked out a budget sans GOP yesterday, and the votes are under way. Here's The "Major Action Report" (.pdf here) from the Committee on Budget & Fiscal Review, which summarizes the primary aspects of the budget plan.
Last year, Proposition 25 decreased the number of votes necessary to pass the budget, from a two-thirds to a simple majority. And since the plan under consideration jettisons Jerry Brown's call for tax extensions, it does not require the two-thirds margin needed under Prop 13.
In other words: No Republicans required.
So if the Dems have given up for now on the taxes they have been arguing are necessary to balance the budget, how did they do it then? From John Myers:
The plan, described in detail by Assembly Democratic staffers, proposes to replace Brown's entire $10.8 billion revenue package with a mix of windfall revenues, additional cuts, and one-time solutions.
The Democratic legislative budget includes no debt repayment; reinstatement of Brown's original $2.85 billion deferral of money owed to K-12 schools and community colleges; an additional $300 million cut to higher education (shared equally by UC and CSU systems); an assumption that $2.2 billion from the sale of state buildings and from taking tobacco tax money from childhood programs survives court challenges; that the feds hand over $700 million to the state's Medi-Cal program; and that a complicated tax swap from years gone by is unwound, thus freeing up $900 million while canceling a quarter-cent of the sales tax decrease now scheduled to take effect on July 1.
The Sacramento Bee puts it this way:
According to an Assembly budget aide authorized to brief the press, the spending plan closes a remaining $9.6 billion deficit through accounting maneuvers, cuts, additional fees, delayed payments and a revamped plan to sell state properties. Several solutions could face legal challenges that threaten their viability.
"One-time solutions." "Accounting maneuvers." Sounds like the stuff often derided as "gimmicks" and "kicking the can down the road" by critics like Governor Brown himself. So assuming the Dems pass their plan today, will he sign it? As we blogged in March, Brown said the following at an extraordinary appearance before the Budget Conference Committee:
I want to make one thing clear, and that's another reason I came here. If we don't get the tax extensions, I am not going to sign a budget that is not an all-cuts budget. And it's going to be turbulent... It's either the tax extensions and the 12 billion or its 25 billion or as close to that as we're gonna get. And then if we can't do that, then maybe we don't get a budget and we just sit here and wrangle.... (Listen to the audio here.)
But that was long ago and much unsuccessful haggling away. From the Bee again:
Gov. Jerry Brown suggested Monday he would consider signing a Democratic budget that relies on such solutions despite his previous opposition to proposals he considered "budget gimmicks."
And John Myers says this:
Whether the proposal relies on too many assumptions or gimmicks lies in the eye of the beholder.