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Brown Pushes Rainy Day Fund; Steinberg Signals Delay

File Photo / AP
 

File Photo / AP

When California Governor Jerry Brown made a rare appearance before a legislative committee Monday to support a “rainy day fund” constitutional amendment, the surprisingly warm reception in the room belied the tensions beginning to emerge.

At his third appearance this term testifying before a legislative committee, Brown urged lawmakers to send his proposed “rainy day fund” constitutional amendment to voters.

“Now it’s not easy,” Brown told lawmakers. “Some people are gonna say, why ever restrain ourselves?  There’s so many good ideas here that this will curb some of them.  Well, that’s the idea.  There is some curb, because if you don’t curb, you’ll go back into this constant recurrence of debt, boom and bust, red and black.”

The governor found strong support from Assembly Democrats at the committee hearing.  But he’s facing some pushback in the Senate, where Democratic Leader Darrell Steinberg has raised concerns about both the structure of Brown’s proposal – and his call to reach a deal in the next two weeks.

As the Senate convened in special session Monday at the governor's behest, Steinberg warned against rushing to a deal before the final budget takes shape in mid-June.

“Whatever we do here will lock Californians into a budgeting formula for generations to come,” Steinberg said.  “A poorly-designed constitutional amendment is difficult to fix.”

Democratic Assembly Speaker John Pérez, in contrast, said a deal should be reached in the next two weeks.

Republicans, too, have concerns – particularly about how easy it would be to take money out of the rainy day fund.  But they say they believe there’s a pathway to a deal – and for the first time in three years, their votes will be needed.

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