Legislative Budget Standoff - June 26, 2009
June 26, 2009
With the state facing a crash crunch next week that Controller John Chiang insists will require IOUs to be issued in lieu of checks, the State Assembly approved a $5 billion package of current year proposals, including the $85 million unallocated reduction to community colleges and the additional $115 million in deferrals from the current to next fiscal year. The bipartisan vote provided a glimpse of hope that leaders had moved from soap box to finding common ground.
And then the governor spoke.
As the Assembly was wrapping up its actions with expected action to follow in the Senate, the governor announced that he would veto the current year solutions if they came separately from the overall $24 billion package he believes is necessary to balance the books through next June. Senate Republicans heeded is caution, and opposed endorsing the Assembly action.
Both houses are scheduled to return today and have announced that they will meet both days on the weekend. Of course, in debates like this, they frequently announced sessions everyday, and then change them at the last minute if a deal is not imminent.
The standoff centers around two issues--should $21 billion or $24 billion in solutions be adopted right now and whether tax increases should be included in the package. Democrats claim they met the governor's original May Revise goal of $21 billion in solutions, while the governor insists that he increased his solutions package at the insistence of the Legislature's nonpartisan fiscal analyst. Democrats further insist that, to avoid eliminating Cal Grants, CalWORKs, and Healthy Families, the tax package of oil severance, tobacco and vehicle license fee (for parks) must be adopted.
For community colleges, the budget is essentially set. We are monitoring the situation carefully, but don't believe that additional pressure will help at this time. Legislative staff and legislators are frankly mentally and physically exhausted and overplaying your hand at this point could lead to negative returns. If the situation drags into next week, we may need your help in pushing for a solution--although none of us is particularly proud of the package of pending cuts.
Stay tuned to the League's Twitter stream <http://www.twitter.com/ccleague/> throughout the weekend, and I'll likely next update you on Monday unless major action occurs.
President and Chief Executive Officer
Community College League of California
2017 O Street, Sacramento, California 95811