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Republicans Criticize Budget "Shell" Game

The California legislature erupted in debate Thursday over the passage of nearly eighty empty budget bills that don't contain any actual budgeting.

The measures are called "spot" or "shell" bills, and they've become common practice at the Capitol over the last decade. They move the budget process forward so lawmakers can quickly pass a spending plan once they negotiate a deal.

But Republican Senator Tom Harman said if the Democrats want to pass budget bills, they should actually put something in them.


"Now, we'll have to wait until sometime probably in June, and in the middle of the night, with literally no notice - maybe an hour - that bill will come back, and that'll be the budget. So that's totally lacking in transparency," said Harman.

Democrats said Republicans have taken themselves out of the budget process by signing a "no tax" pledge and rarely attending budget hearings.

Major actions on the coming year's spending plan aren't expected until after Governor Jerry Brown releases his updated budget proposal in May.