By Kevin Yamamura and Torey Van Oot
Published: Saturday, Jun. 16, 2012 – 12:00 am | Page 1A
Facing the threat of lost pay, state lawmakers sent a $92.1 billion spending plan to Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday despite knowing he could veto it because they still lack a budget deal.
Both houses of the Legislature swiftly passed seven budget bills Friday with little of the drama that characterized late-night budget sessions of the past – and early enough for lawmakers to be home in most districts by dinner.
It was the second time Democrats approved a spending plan using their new majority-vote authority under Proposition 25, rather than the supermajority vote required before 2011. The two houses voted along partisan lines, with most Democrats in favor and Republicans opposed.
Lawmakers had to pass a budget by Friday’s constitutional deadline to avoid losing pay and expense money.
While lawmakers sent Brown the main budget bill, Assembly Bill 1464, they did not send the bulk of more than two dozen “trailer” bills that detail how to cut programs and raise revenue. For instance, they did not pass legislation specifying how to save money in the welfare-to-work program, an area where Democratic lawmakers still disagree with Brown.
“We did not pass all of them because we want to finish our negotiations with the governor before we vote on those measures,” said Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento.
Steinberg said he expects talks with Brown to “intensify” over the next several days and that the state will have a fully enacted budget before the July 1 start of the fiscal year.
The two sides agree on cuts to courts and state workers, along with a November ballot initiative that, if approved by state voters, would temporarily raise taxes on sales and high-income earners.
They also agree on using new revenue from greenhouse-gas charges on businesses, borrowing from special state funds and relying on money from the multistate settlement with banks for past mortgage abuses.
They disagree on cuts to programs for the poorest Californians, particularly welfare-to-work, known as CalWORKs. Legislative Democrats have found ways to avoid cutting much further in safety net programs, such as trimming funding for public schools and taking money counties say they are owed.
Brown has called for an overhaul of CalWORKs that would result in stricter consequences for parents who do not work or seek training after two years rather than four years. Brown also wants a 27 percent cut in cash aid to families that receive smaller grants because parents have exhausted their time limit in the program or are undocumented with legal children.
Democratic lawmakers instead want to continue allowing parents of young children to receive cash aid without having to search for a job. The state would save money by not paying for child care, transportation or training.
“We’re still not there yet,” Brown press secretary Gil Duran said of an agreement.
Democrats say they satisfied the Proposition 25 requirement by sending AB 1464 to the governor. In the bill, lawmakers agreed to $92.1 billion in general fund spending in the next fiscal year and said the state would receive $94.4 billion in revenue. That assumes voters pass the November tax initiative.
Last year, Controller John Chiang cited the Legislature’s failure to pass all of the necessary budget bills by the June 15 deadline as one reason to dock their pay. But his power to decide whether the budget was done was curtailed by a Sacramento Superior Court decision in April.
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