DeSaulnier blasts budget impasse, calls for reform

After being locked onto the floor of the Assembly until the wee hours one morning last week to force a vote on a state budget, Assemblyman Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, told Contra Costa business leaders today he will seek reforms of the state’s budget approval process.

Elected in November 2006, it was DeSaulnier’s first front-row seat to the state budget process and his first vote on the matter.

It’s ludicrous, DeSaulnier says, to hold the state budget hostage under a super-majority rule that only two other states use — Rhode Island and Arkansas. He says he was further exasperated to hear that the state Senate had one Republican willing to vote for the budget — Sen. Abel Maldonado — but couldn’t round up a second one.

“A state with a population of 38 million and a budget of $140 billion has been held up for lack of one vote in the Senate,” said an incredulous DeSaulnier to a lunch meeting of several hundred members of the Contra Costa Council.

DeSaulnier agrees the state needs a balanced budget but says it should be done in a thoughtful and deliberative manner with an eye on the longterm impacts rather than a late-night arm-twisting session where the public won’t learn of the consequences until it’s far too late.

To end the annual impasse where a handful of dissenters stall the entire state, DeSaulnier says he wants to create a small commission charged with recommending a new budget adoption process, perhaps a hybrid of successful systems in other states.

He said he will introduce a bill later this year or early next year.

Watch DeSaulnier’s speech on CCTV and Comcast public access station Channel 27 on Aug. 7 at 9 p.m. or Aug. 8 at 2 p.m.

Lisa Vorderbrueggen