California Governor Edmund G. Jerry Brown bypassed Senate Republicans and struck a budget deal with the Democratic majority Tuesday, abandoning sought-after tax extensions in favor of optimistic revenue projections.
Brown had pushed hard to keep in place hikes in higher sales and vehicle taxes, but ultimately decided that goal was impossible in the face of implacable Republican resistance.
I thought we were getting close, but as I look back on it, there is an almost religious reluctance to ever deal with the state budget in a way that requires new revenues, Brown said.
Instead, the budget aims to close the state's $9.6 billion deficit by raising some licensing fees, slicing millions of dollars from public higher education and the court system, and incorporating better-than-expected revenue projections that forecast the state reaping $4 billion more than previously anticipated. If that revenue fails to materialize, deep cuts to state services and education would automatically kick in, including a measure to shorten the school year.
In case we are over-optimistic, we have severe trigger cuts, said Brown. Those are real.
California lawmakers have been working without pay since Brown vetoed their initial budget proposal, a plan that relied on financial 'blue smoke and mirrors' and that Brown called not financeable. Republicans dismissed that budget as disingenuous, and they had fresh criticism for this budget's reliance on new revenue.
Senate Republicans call on both the governor and Democrat leaders to return to the bargaining table and take steps to bring about true reform that will put an end to boom/bust budget cycles, rather than rely upon a phantom $4 billion that may never materialize, Republican Sen. Bob Huff said in a statement, calling the projection a wand that Harry Potter would be proud to wield.
The budget also retains a controversial measure contained in the version Brown vetoed that defers $2.8 billion in payments to schools.