On politics in the Golden State
January 19, 2012 | 3:28 pm

Now that Gov. Jerry Brown has unveiled his budget proposal, it’s time for lawmakers to pull out their red pens.

The Senate Budget Committee held its first hearing Thursday, and its Assembly counterpart will do the same Tuesday. Until the governor releases an updated proposal in May, lawmakers will be poking and prodding his budget plan – and spinning it for political purposes.

With the state’s budget deficit shrinking, Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) said lawmakers can take their time reviewing Brown’s spending plan this year.

“It’s something we were not able to do given the state of emergency a year ago,” said Leno, chairman of the Senate Budget Committee.

This year’s deficit is estimated to be $9.2 billion, a far cry from last year’s $26-billion gap. Senate Democrats have balked at the governor’s request for about $2 billion in cuts to welfare and medical programs.

California’s spending plan won’t be finalized until it’s approved by a majority vote in both houses of the Legislature and is signed by the governor. The deadline is June 30.

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