- They propose to collect almost $2 billion next year by selling bonds based on future lottery revenues.
- Republicans also will raise another $349 million by raiding local city redevelopment funds for long-unspent money previously ear-marked for housing construction.
- The GOP plan also would balance the budget by trimming or eliminating programs and agencies that Republicans have been trying to dump for years.
Saturday, August 30, 2008 - 18:34 PDT SACRAMENTO -- California's long-running budget battle is virtually guaranteed to set an unwanted new record for delay after Senate Republicans today put out a new budget plan that won't be ready for a vote until later this week.
"We can't have this done by 9 a.m. (Sunday)," Senate GOP leader Dave Cogdill, R-Modesto, told a floor session of the Senate today. He said it will take several days to prepare the full proposal.
The state budget already is 62 days overdue, which ties the record set in 2002, when the Legislature approved the budget on Aug. 31. A proposal by Senate Democrats fell three votes short of passage on Friday, and there is no indication that there are the six Republican votes in the Assembly needed to give any budget plan the two-thirds majority needed for passage.
Don't expect Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata, D-Oakland, to celebrate the Legislature's dubious new accomplishment.
"The state is inching its way toward insolvency because we couldn't reach an agreement," a glum Perata told reporters. "That's what history will say."
Perata blamed Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger for the most recent budget delays, complaining that the governor has been unable or unwilling to convince any Republicans to support a Democratic budget plan based largely on the governor's own proposed compromise.
"It's very difficult when a two-thirds majority requires Republican votes that a Republican governor can't get," Perata said. "This is a compromise, but (Schwarzenegger) is going to have to enforce that compromise."
Schwarzenegger, however, would like to see his own budget plan put up for a vote, without the alterations made by Perata and the Democrats.
"Since Senator Perata's budget failed and the Republican budget is likely to fail, leaders in both parties should put the governor's compromise budget up for a vote," said Lisa Page, a spokeswoman for Schwarzenegger. "It is a fair, middle-of-the-road compromise and he would sign it today."
But Republican legislators have been adamant that they won't vote for any budget proposal, even the governor's, that includes new taxes.
Their new tax plan avoids Schwarzenegger's call for a temporary one-cent boost in the state sales tax that would raise $4 billion dollars next year and $105 million in other taxes called for in the Democratic version of Schwarzenegger's budget.
Instead, they propose to collect almost $2 billion next year by selling bonds based on future lottery revenues. Unlike the governor's plan, which would require a ballot measure and not make money available until 2009-10, Cogdill said this new plan could be done without a statewide vote and raise money immediately.
Republicans also will raise another $349 million by raiding local city redevelopment funds for long-unspent money previously ear-marked for housing construction.
The GOP plan also would balance the budget with a variety of other cuts, trimming or eliminating programs and agencies that Republicans have been trying to dump for years.
The plan, for example, would eliminate the Agricultural Labor Relations Board, which Republicans have opposed since it was started in the 1970s. The UC Labor Institute, another GOP target, would be blue-penciled, as would the biodiversity conservation programs.
The plan also calls for cuts in welfare and health spending, a cap that would limit future state spending to some combination of population growth and the rate of inflation, gives the governor the right to make mid-year program cuts if the budget is out of balance and would prevent the Legislature from adjourning until a budget is passed.
Many of the suggestions, such as changes in overtime regulations, more public-private partnerships and runaway production tax credits, are straight out of a GOP wish list and are unlikely to get much Democratic support.
Even Republican Assembly Leader Mike Villines, R-Clovis, admitted that the Democrat-run Legislature wasn't likely to pass a GOP budget bill.
"But this shows you can do a budget without taxes that's responsible," he said. "It's the basis for a very good compromise in the next step."
The GOP budget plan received an immediate thumbs-down from Assembly Speaker Karen Bass, D-Los Angeles.
"The Republican proposal isn't a plan, it's a blueprint for economic disaster," she said in a statement. "Two billion in borrowing from a phony lottery scheme and $1.5 billion in cuts to the safety net for our most needy citizens ... are not reflective of California values."
Perata also was skeptical about the GOP budget plan, suggesting that the attempt to change the lottery finances without a public vote could be illegal.
But he told Senate Republicans that he wanted to see a complete budget proposal and then would allow them to bring it up for a full floor debate.
But even after the Legislature ends its session tonight, the Senate will continue to meet daily in special session until there's a budget, Perata said.
"For us to be anywhere but here, ready to take up a budget bill, would be unwise," he said. "I won't do it."