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Angry words as Democrats move budget forward

Lots of tough words are flying back and forth across the aisle as the Legislature has sent a Democratic party-line budget to Gov. Jerry Brown.

From state Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett, D-San Leandro:

“Today Democrats have passed a balanced budget and respected the state constitutional deadline and voters’ wishes. While this was the responsible thing to do, it is heartbreaking. Republicans were unwilling to give voters the option to avoid cuts and slashing funding for courts and education.”

“This deadline, and our commitment to meet it, has been known to all, including Republicans, since Proposition 25 passed last November. Republicans’ steadfast resistance to putting another option before voters – to ask whether to continue taxes at their current level instead of letting them expire – is undemocratic.

“The truth is we have no other option to pass a budget that is balanced. Without more revenue, the only option left is to make awful cuts. And these come after we already made $11 billion of tough cuts in March.

“There is no doubt we can do better – we must do better – for California and its future. I call on Republicans to consider the consequences of what is happening here today, and ask all Californians to contact Republican legislators and demand another option.”

“The bill now goes to the governor, who will continue to seek Republican support for an alternative to this harsh, all-cuts budget. All Californians should contact the governor and Republican legislators today to demand a more equitable solution.”

From state Senators Tom Berryhill, R-Modesto; Anthony Cannella, R-Ceres; Bill Emmerson, R-Hemet; and Tom Harman, R-Huntington Beach, the four Republicans seen as pivotal to a budget deal:

Tom Harman“Today’s actions prove that the bridge tax isn’t a stumbling block – it’s political theater. The real stumbling block for the Majority Party are the unions and trial lawyers demanding they block the reform proposals we have been pushing for months.

“Instead of a political drill, today we could have had a real bipartisan budget – one that allows voters to weigh in on Governor Brown’s tax proposal as well as a hard spending cap, significant reforms to our broken pension system, and improvements to California’s business climate to spur the economy and get people back to work.”

From Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom:

“Today, through their inexplicable refusal to engage in a responsible and balanced budget solution, Republican legislators have forced an additional $300M in devastating cuts to our public universities.

“For six months, Governor Jerry Brown and Democratic leaders have tried to work with Republican legislators to reach common-sense, common-ground solutions to California’s budget problems that would have minimized already enormous cuts to the University of California and California State University systems, the cornerstone of California’s economic engine.

“But, even after Democrats passed $12.5B of budget cuts in March, including $1B from higher education, Republican lawmakers have been incapable and unwilling to meet anywhere near the middle.

“These cuts are penny wise and pound foolish and threaten to further damage a stretched-to-the-limit public university system that was once the envy of the world. In volatile economic times, we should be investing in our universities to ensure we are producing the highly-skilled, educated workforce California needs to compete in the global economy.

“If Republicans want to walk the walk on job creation and attract and retain businesses in California, they should immediately return to the table and negotiate a good-faith solution that reverses these additional cuts to the State’s universities.”

From Board of Equalization member George Runner:

George Runner“Make no mistake, this Democrat budget isn’t about solving California’s fiscal problems—it’s only goal is to ensure lawmakers keep their paychecks flowing.

“When voters last fall granted Democrats their wish of majority-vote budgets, they demanded lawmakers forfeit their pay if those budgets are not approved on-time. But it was never the voters’ intention for lawmakers to approve a sham budget simply to keep their paychecks coming.

“What’s worse is that to protect their own pay, Democrats are poised to sacrifice the paychecks of thousands of California small businesses known as affiliates. Up to 25,000 of these Internet entrepreneurs will lose their affiliate status if Democrats approve a so-called ‘Amazon tax.’ According to the Board of Equalization’s analysis, ‘termination of affiliate programs would have an adverse impact on state employment’ and ‘lead to lower revenues.’

“The dumbest idea of all is the Democrats’ plan to sell state buildings for one-time revenue. If lawmakers want real one-time dollars, they should consider my proposals to raise billions in revenue by (1) granting an interest and penalty holiday to spur collection of delinquent tax payments and (2) selling-off aging debts owed the state.”

More, after the jump…
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Posted on Wednesday, June 15th, 2011
Under: Assembly, California State Senate, Ellen Corbett, Fiona Ma, Gavin Newsom, Gov. Jerry Brown, Jerry Brown, Leland Yee, Lt. Governor, Mark Leno, state budget, Tom Harman | 4 Comments »

The buzz on Jerry Brown’s May budget revision

From state Senate Republican Leader Bob Dutton, R-Rancho Cucamonga, and state Senate Budget Vice Chair Bob Huff, R-Diamond Bar:

Bob Dutton“Senate Republicans believe Governor Brown is moving in the right direction by making education and law enforcement funding a top priority. We also applaud the governor for embracing Republican proposals of paying down state debt and providing some job-creation incentives.

“But the May Revise goes too far on taxes and not far enough on reforms.

“Rather than curbing government spending, the governor’s revised budget still sets the state on a course of excessive spending growth in the future – spending that relies on tax increases.

“With $6.6 billion in new revenues, Republicans are right – we don’t need, and it’s ridiculous to ask voters for, five years of new taxes.

“Clearly the California economy is trying to recover, which makes it critical that the state budget include reforms that Senate Republicans have been seeking from day one – a hard spending cap, pension reform and business-regulation relief.

“The Senate Republicans’ long-terms solutions provide the stability small businesses need to grow and create jobs.”

From State Senate Budget Committee Chairman Senator Mark Leno, D-San Francisco:

Mark Leno“The revised budget proposal Governor Brown released today makes use of the state’s unexpected improved revenues in a fiscally responsible way and addresses California’s structural deficit so that we do not dig the hole any deeper. While our cash forecasts are encouraging, we are far from resolving the long-term deficit problem, and must not fall into the trap of utilizing one-time solutions, borrowing and deferments that would only aggravate the problem. This revised budget is an honest and balanced spending plan that extends current revenues to stimulate the economy, secure jobs and protect public investments in K-12 education, universities, public safety and social programs. I am committed to working with Governor Brown, my colleagues in the Legislature and the people of California to help our state recover and flourish once again.”

From Assembly Republican Leader Connie Conway, R-Tulare:

Connie Conway“In our ‘Roadmap to a No Tax Increase Budget,’ Assembly Republicans showed that we can protect funding for the classroom and law enforcement without raising taxes. We call upon the Governor to stop trying to raise people’s taxes and start working across party lines on a no-tax increase budget compromise. Protecting our core priorities, reforming state government and bringing back private sector jobs – without raising taxes — must continue to be our focus as we work to get California back on track.”

From state Treasurer Bill Lockyer:

“The Governor deserves credit for not succumbing to expediency and remaining focused on California’s longer-term fiscal future. The plan reflects an understanding that, despite welcome revenue increases, the State still faces significant budget shortfalls not just in the next fiscal year, but in subsequent years. It closes those ongoing deficits with a balanced approach that solidifies California’s fiscal foundation without short-circuiting the state’s economic recovery.

“The plan’s effect on our ability to borrow $10 billion to meet the State’s cash-flow needs remains unclear. If full implementation of the Governor’s FY 2011/12 plan remains contingent on voter approval of taxes, my office will not be able to complete a cash-flow borrowing transaction unless the final adopted budget includes real, inescapable, quickly-implemented spending cuts that would be triggered if voters reject the taxes.”

Lots more, after the jump…
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Posted on Monday, May 16th, 2011
Under: Bill Lockyer, Bob Dutton, California State Senate, Darrell Steinberg, Jerry Brown, John Chiang, Mark Leno, state budget, Tom Harman, Tom Torlakson | 11 Comments »

Everyone’s talking about budget talks gone bust

Budget talks in Sacramento have been declared dead, and the wires are abuzz with posturing for whatever comes next.

From Gov. Jerry Brown:

Jerry Brown“Yesterday, I stopped the discussions that I had been conducting with various members of the Republican party regarding our state’s massive deficit.

“The budget plan that I put forth is balanced between deep cuts and extensions of currently existing taxes and I believe it is in the best interest of California. Under our constitution, however, two Republicans from the Assembly and two from the Senate must agree before this matter can be put to the people.

“Each and every Republican legislator I’ve spoken to believes that voters should not have this right to vote unless I agree to an ever changing list of collateral demands.

“Let me be clear: I support pension reform, regulatory reform and a spending cap and offered specific and detailed proposals for each of these during our discussions. While we made significant progress on these reform issues, the Republicans continued to insist on including demands that would materially undermine any semblance of a balanced budget. In fact, they sought to worsen the state’s problem by creating a $4 billion hole in the budget.

“One glaring example is the taxation of multinational corporations. My budget plan requires that gigantic corporations be treated the same as individual taxpayers and not be allowed to choose their preferred tax rate.

“This is the so-called single sales factor. The Republicans demand that out-of-state corporations that keep jobs out of California be given a billion dollar tax break that will come from our schoolchildren, public safety and our universities. This I am not willing to do.

“Much is at stake, and in the coming weeks I will focus my efforts on speaking directly to Californians and coming up with honest and real solutions to our budget crisis.

Attached is my letter to Republican Leader Dutton last Friday that outlines in greater detail my position.”

From state Sen. Anthony Cannella, R-Ceres, who was among the five GOP Senators bargaining with Brown:

“I fully recognize that doing what’s right for my constituents and getting California back on track will entail tough decisions to fundamentally change the way our government works for the people it serves. That’s the reason I joined my colleagues in pushing for pension reform, a hard cap on state spending and measures to spur job creation – all of which we believed would help address the ongoing structural problems that contribute to our state’s persistent multibillion-dollar deficit.

“I appreciate Governor Brown’s willingness to engage on these issues and the progress that was made as a result. However, finding agreement required an equal willingness from the public-employee unions, trial attorneys and other stakeholders to join our effort to get California moving again – a willingness that was stunningly absent from our conversations. As a result of these groups’ refusal to challenge the status quo, it has become clear the governor and legislative Democrats are not in a position to work with us to pass the measures necessary to move California forward.

“Thus, I do not foresee a path to compromise.”

From California Labor Federation Executive Secretary-Treasurer Art Pulaski:

“Gov. Brown’s balanced approach to solving our state’s budget crisis offered California a much-needed pathway to stability and an end to our long budget nightmare. It’s truly sad that Republican legislators have put their own narrow interests above the needs of our state by blocking a vote of the people on solving our budget crisis. It appears the Republicans were never negotiating in good faith. Their ever-growing list of inflexible demands – most of which had nothing to do with our current budget crisis — frustrated any hope of compromise.

“By refusing to allow a vote of the people on issues that profoundly impact us all, Republicans have completely abdicated their responsibility to their constituents and our state. Instead of governing responsibly, they continue to take their marching orders from out-of-state ideologues and radio talk show hosts. Republicans have shown they are more willing to protect tax handouts for billion-dollar corporations than protect our kids’ schools. Their failure to make any compromises shows how out of touch they’ve become.

“If the Republicans aren’t willing to govern, Gov. Brown and the Democrats must do so without them. There’s simply too much at stake. We urge Gov. Brown to move forward with a fair budget that saves our schools, public safety and other vital services from even deeper, more devastating cuts.”

From state Sen. Tom Harman, R-Huntington Beach, another of those five GOP senators:

“Recent polling clearly shows Republican reforms have the backing of the majority of Californians. It is a sad commentary that the best interests of California play second fiddle to the self-serving interests of public employee unions. Unfortunately the go-to answer for Democrats always seems to be more taxes. Nothing has changed.”

UPDATE @ 6:02 P.M.: From Assembly Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles:

“Democrats have made the tough decisions necessary to close an historic budget deficit. While Republican rhetoric suggests they are open to working with us, their actions have not reflected their public statements. In fact, over the past several days, they have shown their true priority is demanding tax cuts for huge, out-of-state corporations, and other costly proposals that would have put a four billion dollar hole in the budget. I am deeply disappointed they have refused to let the people of California have a say in how we close the deficit and put our fiscal house in order.

“Regardless, we must move forward on finding solutions that reflect the spirit of the Governor’s budget proposal. We have approved more than 14 billion dollars in solutions to close a 26 billion dollar deficit, and we will meet our constitutional obligation to approve the budget by June 15. One thing is clear: the people of California would be well served if Republican actions matched their rhetoric, because we need to move forward together, as a state, to close this deficit.”

UPDATE @ 6:07 P.M.: From state Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento:

“I want to commend the governor for putting out an honest budget and trying to reach across party lines. Unfortunately, the Republican Party as a whole appears to want to be irrelevant when it comes to governing in California and it seems intent on achieving that objective.

“The only responsible way to resolve the state’s structural deficit once and for all is to make deep cuts and extend existing revenue. We stepped up with cuts, passing legislation that erased $14 billion of the deficit. On the revenue question, all we asked was that the minority party give Californians the right to vote on whether to double those cuts or instead extend existing taxes for five years. The Republicans denied the people that opportunity. In doing so, they put corporate tax breaks ahead of our children and students, and put private-sector developer subsidies ahead of public safety. I don’t believe their decision reflects the will and the values of the majority of Californians.

“The deadline to pass a balanced budget is June 15 and we will meet that deadline. We have a job to do and we’ll do it.”

Posted on Tuesday, March 29th, 2011
Under: Assembly, California State Senate, Darrell Steinberg, Jerry Brown, John Perez, state budget, Tom Harman | 4 Comments »

E.Bay lawmakers react to Jerry Brown’s SOTS

Some East Bay lawmakers are sounding off on the State of the State address that Gov. Jerry Brown delivered earlier this evening. Guess what: They liked it.

From state Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett, D-San Leandro:

“This governor is being honest with the Legislature and the voters. We can no longer pretend the state can right its ship without serious action. As Senate Majority Leader, I am committed to working across the aisle and with voters up and down the state to make sure we, once and for all, put California’s budget crisis behind us. Every single person in Sacramento and the state wants California to again be a leader in jobs and prosperity.”

From Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo:

“Less than a week after assuming office, Governor Brown presented us with a budget that does not rely on accounting gimmicks or inflated revenue projections. He continued the dialogue tonight by talking honestly about the difficult choices all of us must make – Democrats and Republicans. It also is clear that the Governor understands the tremendous potential of California and the contributions that critical programs like education have made to our economy and our lifestyles. I share his vision and his optimism.

“I was born in California at a time when we were the leader in education, aerospace, research and many other industries. Anything was possible in our state then because we made critical investments in our infrastructure, and we were disciplined in how we spent our money and repaid our debt.

“I believe the Governor has been very forthright about the tough road that lies ahead and we must come together as Californians and be willing to make the sacrifices required to right our financial ship and rebuild our infrastructure, our schools, our colleges, our roads. It is both a fiscal and a moral imperative if our children are going to have the same opportunities as our generation.

“The Governor has repeatedly shared his commitment to education and to creating good jobs. These are two of my top priorities. As a budget subcommittee chair, I am holding hearings to review the Governor’s budget to allow for a thorough review and public comment as well as timely action. I am looking forward to continuing my work to help our great state regain its place as a leader in our nation.”

From Assemblyman Bob Wieckowski, D-Fremont:

“I think Governor Brown is being straight-forward and very candid about the challenges facing California and people find that refreshing. He’s not using any smoke and mirrors or Hollywood flash, nor is he searching for scapegoats.

“The reality is there aren’t any quick fixes or silver bullets to get us out of this mess. We need to cushion the blow for those families who have already suffered the most from the recession, and we need to stimulate job growth. We can do that by becoming more competitive in manufacturing, putting people to work to modernize our facilities and make them more energy efficient, and by investing in our universities to advance our biotech industries.

“Our challenges are daunting, but they can be overcome by the creativity and imagination that has made our state the eighth-largest economy in the world.”

As the Bay Area has elected no Republicans to this Legislature, I picked a few GOP voices from elsewhere in the state. Follow me after the jump to read ‘em…
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Posted on Monday, January 31st, 2011
Under: Assembly, Bob Wieckowski, California State Senate, Ellen Corbett, Jerry Brown, Joan Buchanan, Mimi Walters, Tom Harman | 1 Comment »

Former AG candidate blasts Harris for backing law

State Sen. Tom Harman, who while seeking the GOP nomination for attorney general less than a year ago said California should join with states suing to overturn the health care reforms passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama, today blasted Attorney General Kamala Harris for helping to file a brief in the law’s defense.

Harman, R-Huntington Beach, issued a news release a few hours after Harris announced that she and eight other Democratic attorneys general were filing a friend of the court brief with the Cincinnati-based 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals:

Tom Harman“The time for California to involve itself in the legal proceedings surrounding Obamacare has long passed and it is now a matter for the U.S. Supreme Court. Certainly filing a brief in support of a program universally disliked by voters and estimated to cost Californians billions of additional tax dollars at a time when we are facing multi-billion dollar deficits and record unemployment sends a mixed message.

“The Attorney General’s time and resources would be better spent focusing on the most pressing issues facing Californians – promoting private sector jobs and stimulating the economy. Spearheading efforts to put a lid on frivolous lawsuits and regulations that threaten our small businesses would be of more benefit to the average Californian than supporting a program that is certain to add hundreds of billions of dollars to our tax burden.

“California is currently facing a $28 billion dollar deficit. Our taxes are among the highest in the nation. The federal health plan stands to only exacerbate these problems. As details have emerged about the federal law, national opposition to it has grown to such a point that the new Congress is actively trying to repeal and replace it.

“I would urge the Attorney General to use her department’s resources to tackle California’s immediate concerns.”

Harman finished a distant third in last June’s GOP primary to relatively more moderate Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley, who had not ruled out joining a lawsuit challenging the law; he said he would do so if directed by the new governor and Legislature. Cooley then lost November’s general election to Harris by less than one percentage point.

Posted on Friday, January 21st, 2011
Under: Attorney General, California State Senate, healthcare reform, Kamala Harris, Tom Harman | 4 Comments »