SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) –– Democrats who control California’s Legislature passed a series of budget bills Wednesday with few Republican votes, but the plan was widely seen as merely a stopgap to meet the constitutional budget deadline.

Passage in the Assembly and Senate before a midnight deadline would allow lawmakers to continue receiving their salary and per diem payments. An initiative approved by voters last year punishes lawmakers by stopping their paychecks if they miss the June 15 deadline.

Even as they advanced a detailed proposal to close California’s remaining $9.6 billion deficit, Democratic leaders intended for the governor to continue negotiating with Republicans. The GOP must provide two votes in each legislative house to enact the budget Democrats and Gov. Jerry Brown really want.

That includes a temporary extension of expiring tax increases to fund schools in the coming fiscal year and an authorization for a special election this fall so voters can decide whether to extend the tax hikes for an even longer period.

“The governor pushed for a better plan and we support his plan,” Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg said during the floor debate on the Democratic proposal.

Both houses passed the series of budget bills by late-afternoon Wednesday and began sending them to the governor.

Steinberg said Democrats want to continue working with Republican lawmakers to see if they will provide enough support to go to the ballot with the tax questions later in the year. If not, however, Steinberg said Democrats would expect Brown to sign the budget they are expected to pass Wednesday.

“I would love nothing more than to come back sometime between June 15 and July 1 and pass Plan A,” Steinberg, D-Sacramento, told reporters earlier in the day.

July 1 is the start of the next fiscal year. The next two weeks are crucial because the last of the tax hikes passed in 2009 — increases to the sales and vehicle taxes — expire June 30.

Republican lawmakers have not agreed on the tax matters and say they want reforms to public employee pensions, a spending cap and regulatory changes to help California businesses. They criticized the Democrats for trying to pass a budget that was released just hours before the floor sessions and without Republican support.

“What we have before us is a Democrat budget that reflects a Democrat vision,” said Sen. Bob Huff, Senate Republicans’ lead budget negotiator. “Clearly, the Democrats didn’t want to go down this path to reform.”

Democrats had tried to scare voters with the possibility of an all-cuts budget, only to lose their nerve and use gimmicks and accounting maneuvers to preserve programs, said Huff, of Diamond Bar.

Steinberg responded to Republican complaints by saying the Legislature would pass comprehensive pension reform and take “real steps” to overhaul the state’s business regulations later in this year’s legislative session.

Under the Democratic plan approved Wednesday, education would see $3 billion less in state funding than Brown called for when he released his revised budget proposal in May.

Steinberg said the majority party’s plan also includes more than $500 million in cuts to state programs to help close California’s remaining $9.6 billion deficit.

It also relies on tax and fee increases Republicans say will be challenged in court if they are enacted without a two-thirds vote. Those include increasing car registration fees and extending a quarter-cent sales tax that otherwise would expire next month, aides said.

Democrats still hope Republicans will agree to ask voters later this year to extend temporary tax increases, Steinberg said. The main debate revolves around asking voters to extend the increases to the personal income, sales and vehicle taxes that were approved two years ago. The sales and vehicle tax hikes will expire June 30, while the income tax increase expired in January.

A Field Poll released Wednesday shows 52 percent of registered voters support a renewal of those taxes, with 44 percent opposed. That’s down from 61 percent support for the tax extensions indicated in a Field Poll taken in March.

Brown did not take a position on the Democratic proposal being voted upon Wednesday.

The governor and Democratic lawmakers already have reduced by more than half an original budget deficit of $26.6 billion, primarily through spending cuts. Democrats have little appetite for making even deeper cuts in social services, health care, parks and other programs.

Their plan avoids even deeper cuts by reducing the temporary 1 cent increase in the state sales tax to a quarter-cent, thereby retaining some additional tax revenue. It would boost the state’s vehicle registration fee by $12, impose a surcharge on rural residents for the cost of fighting wildfires and require online retailers to collect state sales tax.

The $12 registration fee would be a charge for services provided directly by the Department of Motor Vehicles. It is separate from the increase in the vehicle license fee that is scheduled to expire June 30.

The rural surcharge would assess an annual fee of $150 per home for those whose fire protection is provided by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Democrats say they also can impose those fees with a simple majority vote, rather than the two-thirds needed for tax increases, because they would be considered direct fees for a service.

The Democratic plan also revives a proposal pushed by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to sell 11 state properties and lease them back from the new landlords but makes important changes to the previous Schwarzenegger proposal, primarily by allowing the state to repurchase the buildings when the lease expires.

The budget asks Republicans to provide the two-thirds majority needed to extend the increase in the state vehicle tax to generate $500 million for local law enforcement programs. Without the extension, local governments would lose the money.

Democratic leaders wanted the Legislature to renew the vehicle and sales tax increases directly until the special election — and perhaps throughout the entire coming fiscal year — to provide funding stability for schools.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Comments (33)
  1. Ray says:

    Fees are the same as taxes that need 2/3 vote to pass the democrats are raping the public.

    1. Matt says:

      No they aren’t.

    2. Terrill Sarter says:

      I’d pay them. Seems the majority would pay them if it came up to a vote.

      Why does the minority feel it has the right to dictate terms to the majority? Throw it up for a vote and let the chips fall where they may. Republicans are against it just because they know they would lose.

  2. Ray says:

    If Brown signs this then he will have broken his promise to the people oh what’s new they all lie to us and give their Unions anything they want.

  3. Ray says:

    Stop giving our money to the Illegals

  4. dunphy says:

    wow ray, prone to hyperbole often?

    1. Roachesmustgo says:

      $113 Billion – This year’s cost of US illegal immigration. Approximately 75% of that cost is absorbed by the states. Middle class pay the majority.

      $1117 – The average amount you and your family paid in taxes this year to support illegals.

      $52 Billion – The cost of educating the children of illegals. This is by far the single largest cost to the American taxpayer.

      $2,700 – The average dollar amount a single illegal household cost the US federal government this year (taxes paid by you).

      51% – The percentage of Mexican immigrant households that use at least one major welfare program. 28% use more than one.

      See the FAIR report for more

      Cutting off all FREEBIES to Illegals will cause them to self-deport. The rest who choose to remain here can easily be deported with less than it costs to support them for ONE year.
      Then secure the border.

      1. barbara says:

        I agree all illegal immigrants should be sent home with just what they came here with…… also the special public election to extend the tax… well has anyone thought what it will cost to do a election of any kind???? just another way for government to give themself a big raise and or put more of our taxes in thier pockets,,,, and they will find a way

  5. Phil Roberts says:

    Good for the Democrats—the GOP, if nothing else, would allow the State of California to slide into a budget problem until hell froze over, because they cannot tell the people of California NOT TO VOTE on the already in place taxes—and they are complaining about the budget being passed without them??? Are you joking? The GOP, in not wanting a vote from the PEOPLE OF CALIFORNIA, have shown themselves to be the bottom feeders of the Legleslature……….

    1. derF says:

      I agree, elections are important. Sort of like Prop 8.

      1. b sutherland says:

        why waste time voting????? the courts or government just over-ride and change things to suit whoever gives the most money…Prop 8 should have stood as fitst voted

  6. Phil Roberts says:

    —-and to Ray and other flying monkey republicanazi supporters; NO ONE CAN TELL ME WHAT TO VOTE ON AND WHAT NOT TO VOTE ON IN THIS COUNTRY!!! That’s why I was wearing a military uniform for—to make sure that no one tried the things that the GOP is trying in this country!!!!

    1. mert says:

      Your not the only to serve this country Phil Roberts. Explain why the democrats couldnt balance the last budget with the so called temporary tax and fee hikes???And you want us to give them 5 more years???? 5 more years for unions to fill their coffers and pander to the illegals???Action speaks louder than words.

      1. dunphy says:

        inaction also make a statement. in this case, the republicans they put out a deal, the democrats didn’t take it. it seems that made the republicans take their ball and go home.
        any legitimacy they may have had went out the window after that.
        in the end, the republicans played it wrong.

    2. Fred says:

      Do you refer to the GOP’s opposition to the confiscation and redistribution of private wealth?

      1. dunphy says:

        no. but they made an ultimatum, the democrats didn’t bite. they have no place to complain.
        paying taxes doesn’t exactly qualify as wealth confiscation. it’s basically what you pay to help your government maintain services.

      2. Terrill Sarter says:

        Private wealth? I just have to point out any wealth you may or may not earn was only available because your country made it possible.

        Go try to earn some dough in China, Libya, Greece. You’d most likely earn nothing. You earn so well because the US makes it so. Time to pay that freedom back Bucko. If you really think you can earn as well anywhere they go try it. I think you’ll find most other countries are a lot harder to make a buck in…and you’ll still pay big in those countries.

  7. Jerry in Auburn says:

    I left a conservative comment, but it was not posted. What’s up with that? Thought police?

    1. jj says:

      Ya there is obviously a lack of Conservative comments on this site. I’m sure they’re singling you out for you brilliant political insight which would bring the entire left-wing establishment down that is set-up to oppress insightful and hardworking people such as yourself.

  8. Rick says:

    I’m not shocked that the liberal tax and spend party voted to raise taxes. It’s what they do!

  9. Michael B. says:

    Goes to show you the democrats ONLY care about THEIR jobs. Well, the one they have until the next election!

  10. Guy says:

    Great, I get to spend even more to register my vehicle so I can drive it on the unmaintained roads here in Sacramento and around the state.

    I’ve had enough, time to look for a home in another state.

    1. duh says:

      good riddance. maybe you should move to texas where they can take all your money through property taxes

  11. billie aldridge says:

    why not MAKE the ones who caused it over the last eight years pay for it – they spend [ put it in their pockets] did they not?

  12. billie aldridge says:

    but still no lawmakers pay cut or tax on their pay WHY

    1. b sutherland says:

      The people should demand a cut in pay for all city,county,stater,federal workers starting with the floor fremen up…. all court and government should cut thier saleries and perks…..there should be a audit to see just what perks and what thier salery is including thier expense accounts……that is where the biggest expense lay……when you hit where it hurts(in the pocket) the job gets done one way or another….the public should not be responsible for the utilities on thier private residents , yet, I would not be surprised to see the publie workers are picking up the cost for all the big boys and girls

  13. The_Truth says:

    lets get this straight, Jerry Brown sued the sale of the state buildings costing the state of California tax payers, then he got sued for stopping the sale of said buildings, further costing the state of California, and now hes going to ok the sale? someone see anything wrong with this?

    Furthermore if were in such a tight budget mess why is he giving concessions to the Unions like the Prison guards union that does not have to use their vacation time? hope a Democrat is in office when that blows up in the states face.

  14. stan says:

    Well Mr Governer, if this was all about pushing something through to avoid missing a paycheck, then you know what you have to do. Remember, we recalled Davis,it isn’t like it is uncharted territory. We aren’t going to vote for tax extensions if it goes to fund someones sweet retirement pension , that isn’t right.

    1. BARBARA says:


  15. Cheryl Lynn says:

    Stop spending. Stop give away programs. Stop the high speed train. Cut wasteful spending in the schools. Send illegal criminals back to there home country. Reduce welfare to only the most needy. Stop the regulations of business that is running business out of California. I could go on, but I won’t. Just stop spending we don’t want to pay for it, face it the state is broke. When I was broke I sold every thing I could and reduced my standard of living. That is what people in the real world do..

  16. Cheryl Lynn says:

    The hard earn money we make should remain in our own pocket.People who are rich earned it and should also be allowed to keep it. I do not feel that we are obligated in any way to pay for someone else. If the state would of budgeted its tax dollars properly over the years we would not be in this fix. I remember clearly that we got rid of the last Democrat Governor over the DMV fee increase.

  17. annie says:

    What do you know? Threatening NO PAY really did make them do their job! Amazing.

  18. denk says:

    Prop 25 stated that a busget must be passed by June 15 or they do not get paid. It did not say that it had to be a good budget. They have passed a budget along party lines and are now off the no-pay hook till next year. Remember people voted to pass Prop 25 even though this could happen

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