Thursday, June 16, 2011
Brown Vetoes Budget; Fate Of Redevelopment Agencies Unclear
California Gov. Jerry Brown today vetoed the state budget approved by his own party's lawmakers.
"I did so because it doesn't meet the needs of this state," Brown said at a downtown Los Angeles news conference. "It has legally questionable maneuvers. It adds to our wall of debt with the attempted sale of (state) buildings.
"We're going to get something better. You can be sure of that."
The governor declined to comment on whether he would veto separate budget-related bills, including one that would require Community Redevelopment Agencies to contribute to state coffers in order to continue operating. The agencies would be required to give millions more dollars to schools.
San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders said the legislation is illegal.
"The state constitution says you can’t take cities' money and give it to other institutions to balance the state budget," he said. "It’s very clear on that. And yet the state continues down
this line because they don’t know how to reform their own budget. They simply don’t get it."
Sanders, L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and mayors of eight other cities -- including Long Beach, Anaheim and Santa Ana -- issued a statement condemning the Legislature for "failing to craft a legal and sustainable budget."
"Their so-called remedy for the state's deficit is an illegal and indefensible shakedown of our cities," according to the statement. "Over the past several months, we have proactively worked with state leaders to create sound alternatives that keep redevelopment alive and solve the state's budget problems.
"But rather than create sensible, long-term solutions for California's dismal financial problems, they sought to recklessly raid local tax dollars and kill redevelopment -- our strongest local tool to revitalize the economy and create jobs now."
Republicans in the legislature said the veto was the right thing to do, but that it does not go far enough.
"Californians deserve a budget that stands the test of time, and that requires the real reforms that they are demanding -- meaningful pension reform, a spending limit and business regulation relief for job creation," Sen. Bob Dutton, R-Rancho Cucamonga, said.
But Brown continued to tout the budget he proposed in January that he said would protect education and public safety through a temporary extension of some taxes -- contingent on voter approval. He also insisted that the solution to the budget stalemate lies with four Republican votes necessary to put a tax-extension proposal on a statewide ballot in the fall.
"If a handful of Republicans will not vote to let the people exercise their sovereign right to say yes on tax exemptions, or not, then we're in a much more difficult place," Brown said. He declined to say what he would do or say to convince those four Republicans to support his budget plan.
Meanwhile, leaders in Brown's own party expressed deep frustration with the veto.
"Governor, over the next two weeks, if you can't get the Republican votes, give us your specific changes to the budget that we passed yesterday that can be adopted by a majority vote," Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, said. "The governor's constant references to his January proposal ring hollow if he is unable to deliver Republican votes."
It remains to be seen how legislators will proceed from here -- and if they will get paid.
An amendment to the state constitution approved by voters in November prevents lawmakers from getting paid unless they pass a balanced budget by a June 15 deadline. State Controller John Chiang said legislators will not get paid if he finds the expenditures in the Democrats' proposed budget exceed the state's projected revenues.
"I remain resolute in my commitment to enforcing the public's will to permanently withhold legislative pay for every day a balanced budget is not passed after yesterday's deadline," Chiang said. He added that he would move quickly to complete his analysis of the budget proposal. State legislators are scheduled to receive their next paycheck June 30.
Brown added a warning to Republicans in his veto message: "If they continue to obstruct a vote, we will be forced to pursue deeper and and more destructive cuts to schools and public safety -- a tragedy for which Republicans will bear full responsibility."
Dutton yesterday called the budget package "irresponsible" and said it "demonstrates that legislative Democrats would rather pander to their special interest allies than adopt the long-term budget solutions that Californians demand and deserve."