California lawmakers approved a spending plan to plug a $54 billion deficit Friday, sending it to Gov. Gavin Newsom. Unlike a previous version passed on their June 15 deadline, this plan reflects an agreement between legislative leaders and Newsom.
The Assembly passed the “budget junior” bill on a party-line vote Friday afternoon. It passed the Senate Thursday night. Just before the Assembly vote, Newsom called the measure “responsible” and indicated he would sign it.
The budget agreement relies on the state’s rainy-day fund to avoid major cuts to health, education and social services included in Newsom's May budget proposal, which lawmakers refused to reduce amid the coronavirus pandemic.
But it counts on $14 billion in federal funding that may or may not come. If Congress does not approve coronavirus relief funding for states and local governments by Oct. 15, the plan calls for furloughs for state workers and cuts to state courts and universities. It would also defer roughly $12 billion in payments to community colleges and public schools until next year.
“We started 2020 at an economic high and pivoted swiftly over the last few months to arrive at a budget plan that is responsible and is responsive to the needs of Californians. That was not a simple task,” Senate President pro-Tempore Toni Atkins said Thursday. “We had to give up some of our priorities just as state employees are giving up pay increases.”
Republicans voted against the main budget bill, calling it fiscally irresponsible and complaining of being shut out of negotiations.
Also this week, the Legislature voted to send a handful of constitutional amendments to voters for consideration this November. They include:
- ACA 5, which would reinstate affirmative action in California. It was repealed 24 years ago via Prop 209.
- ACA 6, which would give parolees the right to vote.
- ACA 8, to allow 17-year-olds to vote in primary elections, caucuses or special elections, as long as they will turn 18 before that year’s general election.
- ACA 11, which was pitched as a compromise between realtors, local governments and their fire departments. It would close loopholes in home ownership transfer taxes and use that money to shore up fire department budgets.
After missing the June 25 deadline for constitutional amendments, lawmakers also passed a bill to extend that deadline — allowing the Assembly to send ACA 8 and ACA 11 to the November ballot.
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