Tag Archives: deal

Inching Ever Closer to a Deal – But Are The Votes There?

I will be on KRXA 540 AM at 8 to discuss this and other topics in California politics

Kevin Yamamura of the Sac Bee provides us with the most detailed look yet at the proposed budget deal:

The plan includes $15.8 billion in spending cuts, $14.3 billion in taxes and $10.9 billion in borrowing, according to a budget outline obtained by The Bee. The state also anticipates billions in federal stimulus money, which would reduce each component of the solution if California receives more than $9.2 billion.

Of course, thanks to the United States Senate, it’s not entirely likely that California will receive $9.2 billion, and it’s also uncertain whether the state can redirect the stimulus as proposed. The full details from Capitol Alert:

Gives K-12 education $5 billion less than it was otherwise entitled.

Eliminates two paid holidays for state workers, with the final number of furlough days per month through June 2010 still subject to negotiation.

Cuts UC and CSU by 10 percent.

Eliminates cost-of-living increases for recipients of CAL-Works and SSI-SSP.

Cuts the corrections department’s medical budget by 10 percent.

Eliminates funding for local public transit agencies.

On the tax side, the plan increases sales tax by 1 cent on the dollar, vehicle license fees from current 0.65 percent of vehicle value to 1.15 percent, and gasoline taxes by 12 cents a gallon with proceeds to pay off transportation bonds. Income taxpayers would pay a 2.5 percent surcharge on tax liability – 5 percent if federal stimulus comes in under $10 billion. Reduces tax credit for dependents from $309 to $99.

Taxes would be increased for two years, and an additional one to three years if the spending restriction measure is approved on the ballot.

Other new “revenues” include taking from voter-approved taxes for mental health and early childhood programs.

The whole thing would have to go before voters in a whopping five-measure package: borrowing from the lottery, changing Proposition 98, approving the spending cap, and taking funds from Proposition 10 (tobacco tax for early childhood programs) and Proposition 63 (tax on millionaires for mental-health programs).

Some of that isn’t awful, and some of that is truly insane (eliminating funding for local transit agencies is an act of madness, and cutting the prison medical budget even further is just going to cause more problems and costs for the state down the road when the feds get involved). But the key question now doesn’t seem to be “what’s the in the deal” but “who will vote for it?” Back to the Yamamura article, Speaker Karen Bass is a bit more cautious in describing the state of things:

“I’ve been in this position now, it seems like every week for the last five weeks,” she said. “And, you know, we get back in the room and something blows up.”

So far the uncertain votes are so-called “moderates” like Lou Correa (Dem, SD-34) and Abel Maldonado (Rep, SD-15), and conservatives like Dennis Hollingsworth (Rep, SD-36) (see update below on Hollingsworth). What this axis looks like is the same axis of stupidity that sank the best parts of the federal stimulus – centrist Dems and their allies across the aisle.

The problem of course is that the deal itself isn’t really worth defending and it’s hard to generate much activism for it. But the individual Senators themselves are a, shall we say, target rich environment for especially in Maldonado’s case, putting chairs over children. The goal now is to lean hard and heavy on these recalcitrant Senators, while beginning to ramp up public sentiment in favor of taxes to protect services. (Yes, we should have done that sooner, and I’m as guilty as anyone for not doing so).

Update by Robert: Dennis Hollingsworth’s communications director emailed me to clarify there’s no “uncertainty” regarding that pillar of the Yacht Party: he opposes the deal. I thought this part of his statement was worth quoting:

If this passes with Republican votes, there will be no reason for any Californian to vote for a Republican in the future. The people sent Republicans to Sacramento to be a blockade against tax increases. Once that wall crumbles, there will be no end to the expansion of taxes and spending. The people will rightly figure they can vote for Democrats and at least stand a fair chance of getting their entitlements and programs along with tax increases. As Republicans, we will only remain as the party that gives them tax increases and no programs.

In other words, Californians want Democrats to give them schools and health care and roads and buses and economic growth – but Republicans are there to make sure none of those horrible things happen!

And they wonder why their party has such a hard time winning statewide elections.

Budget Deal At Expense of CEQA Near?

FDR at the California Progress Report reports that a budget deal seems near, and it may come at the expense of CEQA – or it may not. Depends on who you talk to, I guess:

[Villines] said that he had worked all weekend and that “all” had agreed that some fix needed to be made with respect to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), the state’s basic environmental law, which he called an “AB 32 fix”.

And Núñez:

I specifically asked Nunez about changes to AB 32 and CEQA and he said flat out that there would be no AB 32 changes and none were proposed in the outline he had seen. The changes that have been bandied about by the Republicans all along are not squarely within the language of AB 32 but have been to CEQA. The Speaker did indicate that he was about to brief his caucus and that any changes to environmental laws would not be made without checking with the environmental community. He was reluctant to discuss what had been agreed to privately.

I cannot imagine in what world giving in to the GOP demands on CEQA, in any form, would be anything other than a catastrophic disaster, validating the Senate Republicans’ unconscionable hostage tactics.

Now, there could be no cause for such concern, and one hopes that our Democratic leadership understands the bad precedent and effect such a compromise would have. If anyone in Sacramento thinks that by giving the GOP any of what they want, they’ll ensure anything other than an even worse fight next year, they’re nuts.

[UPDATE] The SacBee has details on this “AB 32 fix” which involves protecting transportation bond-funded projects from AB 32/CEQA action. Details over the filp.

To soothe GOP concerns, staff has drafted a compromise proposal that would place a moratorium on greenhouse gas-related actions against transportation bonds, approved by voters under Proposition 1B last fall. It would sunset after the state Air Resources Board adopts new regulations to comply with a state initiative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2020.

We still don’t know if this is the specific key that will allow a budget deal that Dick Ackerman says now exists.

Personally I’m deeply skeptical of such a deal – how the hell are we going to cut greenhouse gases if we exempt freeway construction from it? Assuming that public transportation, from light rail to high speed rail to clean buses, are still facing a $1.3 billion cut, this is a massive step backward for California.

Yes, it depends on a fight at CARB – but as we’ve seen, from Arnold’s manipulations of that body to the new CARB chair’s significant oil company stock holdings, that’s not a place where we can be certain of strong action of auto emissions.