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Lawmakers Pass California Budget That Lacks Governor's Support

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Senate President pro Tem Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) speaks in support of the Legislature's budget proposal Monday at the state Capitol.

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Legislative Democrats have sent Gov. Jerry Brown a California budget proposal that they know full well he doesn't support. Monday's vote allows lawmakers to meet their constitutional deadline and collect their paychecks.

The $117 billion general fund spending plan would rely on higher revenue estimates to pay for Democrats’ priorities, including child care and higher education.

Senate Budget Chair Mark Leno acknowledged there’s no deal yet with Gov. Brown but says he’d challenge anyone who calls this spending plan a "sham."

"This budget, fiscally responsible, pays down more debt – faster; puts more money in our rainy day fund; puts more money into public education; and begins – if minimally – to reinvest in the needs of the people of the state of California," Leno said on the Senate floor Monday.

"We often say where you spend your money is where your heart is. And it does speak to the issues of building families and children," said Assembly Budget Chair Shirley Weber.

But Republicans criticized the spending plan as fiscally irresponsible and noted the governor shares that concern.

"We do not have money in the bank to support the budget, I think, that we will be passing here today," said Senate Budget Vice-Chair Jim Nielsen.

"Let’s face it, it’s a political exercise," said Assembly Budget Vice-Chair Melissa Melendez. "This is about passing a budget on time. It’s not a budget bill – it’s the Legislative Paycheck Protection Act."

The California constitution requires lawmakers to pass a budget by June 15 each year or lose their pay. Brown now has 12 days to sign this budget or veto it. And during those 12 days, negotiations will continue. Democratic leaders say a deal could come in a matter of days.