Governor Willing To Consider Budget With One-Time Solutions
The California Legislature is closing in on its deadline to pass a state budget. If lawmakers don't pass a budget by Wednesday, they will forfeit their pay. With the deadline looming, Governor Jerry Brown is softening his stance on the budget by saying he'll consider a proposal that includes accounting gimmicks and one-time solutions. We speak to John Myers from "The California Report" about the latest on the budget negotiations in Sacramento.
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MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: By tomorrow night state legislators should have voted on a budget to present to Gov. Jerry Brown. This deadline has not been met in recent years in Sacramento but a couple of changes approved by voters may actually make it possible to meet that deadline. My guest is John Myers, Sacramento bureau chief for the California Report. Hello, John.
JOHN MYERS: Hello.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: So you're at the budget negotiations. You are in Sacramento right outside the door of some budget being laid out for you right now. I know you can't tell us everything but what is happening today up in Sacramento?
JOHN MYERS: There's a lot of discussion going on and I think you laid out the challenge right which is the June 15 is the date by which the legislature is constitutionally required to send a budget to the governor. Now we all know that that has not really ever meant a whole heck of lot in California history, that the deadline has been missed a lot. The deadline has been real for a couple of reasons this time. The first is one that we've talked about a lot in the press which is that last fall prop 25 says that if the legislature doesn't approve a budget by midnight tomorrow night they do not get paid. And that is an incentive for lawmakers, a fair number of lawmakers here in Sacramento. But the other thing that we are hearing more and more this year, Maureen, and I think this is an important that we will be talking about in the next couple of days is that legislatures believe that they have heard loud and clear from Wall Street which we have to go to for some short-term borrowing, that without an on-time budget the ability of the state to borrow money that has been on the course of borrowing to pay the bills without an on-time budget it will be very hard to get the money. So I think they are motivated not only by their own paychecks but by the money the state needs to pay the bill through the summer.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: The pressure is on not only legislatures but also on governor Brown who said he wouldn't consider signing a budget but that includes what some people call budget gimmicks or one-time solutions, he said he wouldn't do that earlier but now he's giving some sign that he may. Why is he softening his stand on the budget?
JOHN MYERS: A lot of what he heard the governor yesterday when he said that two reporters was really a sense of frustration. The governor has had one path that he has tried to march down since January and that is try to send a package of tax extensions to the people to the ballot and to do that he needs Republican agreement he needs a two thirds vote of each house to put those measures on the ballot. He's not been able to get that and I think what you're seeing now is somewhat of a realization of governor Brown there needs to be some type of plan B. and he's famously joked that there is no plan B. He likened it to Cortez burning the ships once he landed on the beach so no one could retreat. The reality is that there is still a thought out there and did some other option to get a budget in place and maybe the budget is more one-time in nature, maybe it uses some of these things that have either been called gimmicks or one-time fixes but the reality now is that the governor and a lot of Democrats in the Legislature believe they need to have an on-time budget in that trumps exactly how the budget looks.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: What are some of these gimmicks or one-time solutions that they may be patting about in the negotiations.
JOHN MYERS: First and foremost revenues (inaudible) higher than expected post in the current budget year and on July 1 because the revenues have been higher than expected and that gives the legislature more breathing room. But if you look at what some of the governor Brown was talking about doing for instance (inaudible) wants to defer some of the money that we have to pay to K through 12 education every year. You could maybe not do that. In other words, you could walk back some of the smart government paying down debt and use the money for a one-time one-year solution and I think that's a lot of what we are hearing discussion of now. The real discussion is getting at all this together in time to have a vote tomorrow not only can you get consensus among legislators here, and you only need the Democrats to get a majority for that these days, but also are you going to deal with criticisms from the public was that we don't know what's in the deal, is it full of gimmicks and also the criticism that you are doing this to get paid because the new 15th deadline.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I know you're in the middle of a briefing John I. just have a couple more questions for you. A lot of people in San Diego County were happy to hear that they found that the extra revenue money would go toward education. Now that is in doubt.
JOHN MYERS: Some of it might be but some of it actually would not because it is mandated under the voter approved formulas under prop 98 which is the school funding guarantee the everyone said that the school is due the extra money by those formulas and I think they will get that. I think one of the questions is how money much of a backlog that they are due over recent years are they going to do and it comes back to the issue if you do not have extended taxes and you need some money somewhere to tell the schools we would love to get you the money that we owe you. We will get it to you next year or something like that.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Will the governor try to get the tax extensions on a future ballot or is he giving up the idea?
JOHN MYERS: I think he still believes it's the way to go. He is cognizant of the criticism that he runs into now that he's kind of stuck about the idea of taking it to a vote to the people. Let's remember he's not legally required to ask the voters to extend the taxes. That's a campaign promise. But I think he realizes that he's jammed in there between that date and the date and calendar and having the taxes having to be approved by the Legislature and I think he still believes it's the right way to go and he thinks it's the right way to ask the voters to weigh in but the problem is that it can that happen in time for this years budget. We are starting to get the sense that now it could not. The governor could revisit this down the road but I think at this point you're going to have at least Democrats in the Legislature who will say can we find a way for it to get this vote passed and I can't over emphasize that enough; the Democrats can pass this budget now on their own. The only thing they need Republicans for are taxes or an election. Everything else they can do on their own.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: What's your sense, John, you've been up there for so long, are fast and furious meetings going on , do you think the budget will be passed this week?
JOHN MYERS: I think the odds are pretty good. I think you will see a vote tomorrow, and I do think that the June 15 deadline now is real because the public is crystallized so much on that date. I Think we will have a vote tomorrow. I think the odds are good that the budget will go to the governor. I think the real question here is are all Democrats on the same page. Are Democrats in the legislature and the governor on the same page. Will the governor sign it even though it may be full of things that some people call gimmicks even though he promised in his campaign not to sign a budget with gimmicks. The real dynamic to watch is Jerry Brown versus Democrats in the Legislature.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Tell us one more time what is the breaking news that is happening right now.
JOHN MYERS: Not so much breaking news but the sense that there is movement on a budget and that Democrats could go forward on their own the details of which we are still trying to figure out by asking the source and asking that source but we do think there will be a budget vote tomorrow and it's going to be a one-time budget rather than an ongoing change which is what the Democratic governor talked about earlier.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: John, thanks a lot.
JOHN MYERS: You're welcome.
MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I'm speaking with John Myers, Sacramento bureau chief for the California Report. Coming up a move to help a mobile park landlords in Oceanside has some mobile homeowners worried about their future. A North County update is just ahead. And the elephant rides at the San Diego County fair can be a treat for kids, but a couple of groups claim they are a torment for the animals. It is 12:15. This is KPBS Midday Edition.