Lawmakers finish California budget on $15.7B gap

by
June 28, 2012

By JUDY LIN, The Associated Press

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California lawmakers finished work Wednesday on the state budget, which awaits Gov. Jerry Brown’s signature.

Democrats passed 21 budget implementing bills on a majority vote intended to satisfy the governor’s demand for deeper cuts to close a $15.7 billion deficit.

Brown has until the end of Wednesday to sign or veto the main budget bill.

“In my view, we are poised to enter a new and better era in California. An era of budget stability with the opportunity to begin building and rebuilding,” Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, said about completing the package.

The spending plan for the fiscal year starting July 1 includes welfare and social service cuts. It also assumes voters will approve Brown’s tax hike on the November ballot.

If voters reject the tax initiative, a series of automatic cuts will be triggered, including three weeks less of public school for the next two years.

Brown believes the tax initiative will raise $8.5 billion in the new fiscal year starting July 1 by increasing the sales tax by a quarter cent to 7.5 percent for four years, and boosting the income tax on people who make more than $250,000 a year for seven years.

“This is a game of chicken where you want to swap our educational system for tax increases, tuition for tax increases,” said Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, R-Twin Peaks. “This is an abject disaster.”

A recent Field Poll found California voters divided on the initiative, with 52 percent in favor and 35 percent opposed.

One of the bills could give the tax initiative top billing on the November ballot ahead of a competing tax hike proposal by wealthy civil rights attorney Molly Munger. The bill would require bond measures and constitutional amendments to appear on the ballot ahead of other initiatives and referendums.

To read more, visit: http://www.ajc.com/news/nation-world/lawmakers-finish-california-budget-1465308.html

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