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Budget Debate Takes Shape As Lawmakers Return To Capitol
Legislative Republicans don’t have the power to block measures – or even tax increases. But they’re hoping Democrats – and especially Governor Jerry Brown – will support at least some of their ideas.
Senate Minority Leader Bob Huff says lawmakers must resist what he calls a “tremendous pent-up desire” to spend the state’s multi-billion dollar budget surplus.
“Everybody’s got an idea about how to spend money, but the disciplined thing to do is just to hold it in reserve right now,” said Huff.
Republicans also want to pay down budget debt and deal with long-term unfunded retirement liabilities.
Assembly GOP Leader Connie Conway says despite Republicans’ legislative supermajorities, she still hopes to work with Democrats.
“Yes, I know, some of my friends say, ‘You’re crazy Connie,’ but I still want to go with the premise that we have reasonable and sensible adults here that actually do care, and when there’s opportunity to work together, I’m always in favor of doing that,” Conway said.
Especially, she says, rewriting the 11 billion dollar water bond on the November ballot.
The California legislature is back in session and Democrats remain firmly in control, leaders are starting the year with a focus on the economy.
Democratic leaders are pushing a message of restoring the state’s economy by creating a rainy day fund and paying down debt. But projects like high speed rail and the Delta water tunnel plan could put pressure on the budget.
Democrats hold a super majority in the legislature, but Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett says the party will continue to act responsibly.
“We’re going to spend where we need to spend to foster growth in this economy. It’s up to us, in a way, to continue to grow ourselves out of the recession. And, like I said, we still have a ways to go, so I think we will be very responsible,” Corbett said.
The party will also be facing a change in leadership in the coming months. Both the Assembly Speaker and Senate President are being termed out and the speculation has already begun over who will replace them.
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