Budget: Good or Bad, It's Done

June 30, 2011 · Filed Under CA Budget · 3 Comments 

Pool Photo/ Hector Amezcua

171 days after Governor Jerry Brown proposed a spending plan to the Legislature, Brown sat at a table in his Capitol office and signed a compromise on-time version into law, one that adheres to most of his suggested cuts, skips his preferred taxes, and banks on a whole lot of unexpected revenue.

What will Brown, the Legislature, interest groups, and the press do with the summer now that the big battle is over?

First, exhale. But then, perhaps quickly, gear up for round two.
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Oh, What A Night

June 29, 2011 · Filed Under CA Budget · 3 Comments 

Getty Images

If the 2011 state budget fight holds any lesson, any takeaway, perhaps it's this: California may be diverse, but it's politics are divergent. Differences that elsewhere are celebrated have, in Sacramento, bred dysfunction.

And the guy in the corner office now faces some choices about whether to stick to his strategy of pragmatic bipartisanship, even after coming up short on the biggest fight he's waged so far.
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Brown Joins Dems In Budget Deal

June 27, 2011 · Filed Under CA Budget, The Governor · 2 Comments 

Getty/Justin Sullivan

Assuming Democratic legislative leaders have their ducks in a row, by Tuesday night the 2011 budget fight could be one for the record books, after confirmation today that Governor Jerry Brown has closed party ranks on a budget that is missing the one thing Brown has seemed to long for all year long: a stamp of bipartisanship.

To hear the governor tell it, of course, it's not for his lack of trying. In fact, the great question to be answered in the weeks and months to come: did Brown's plan -- a package of extended taxes he wanted ratified by voters -- die for lack of Republican clarity on side issues, Democratic refusal to deal on those side issues, or both?
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Does California Need A Budget Cop?

June 26, 2011 · Filed Under CA Budget, CA Government · 2 Comments 

The one thing that the recent debate over who gets to call a California budget balanced has shown... is that perhaps the old system has finally run its course.

For generations, legislators and governors promised that the state's fiscal plan penciled out. But now, in the era of perpetual deficits and polarized politics, traditional budget balancing has been replaced by creative accounting. And maybe what the state needs is a budget cop.
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Podcast: Spare Some Change?

June 24, 2011 · Filed Under Podcasts · 1 Comment 

Who says legislators aren't doing a better job these days of spending less of your money? After all, they are spending almost $49,000 a day less.

That's their missing salary and per diem payments, of course.

This week's Capital Notes Podcast features a discussion about the big decision that cut off legislator paychecks, and the impact it's having on negotiations over a state budget.

Kevin Yamamura of the Sacramento Bee and Wyatt Buchanan of the San Francisco Chronicle and I also take stock of whether 'Budget Plan A' -- the plan offered by Governor Jerry Brown -- still shows any sign of life, with the new fiscal year now just days away.

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Does Brown's Budget Have a Pulse?

June 23, 2011 · Filed Under CA Budget, Taxes, The Governor · 1 Comment 

Shortly after Senate Republicans, even those who have been negotiating with Governor Jerry Brown, told reporters that they wouldn't vote to conditionally extend Brown's tax package, the so-called "bridge" plan, the leader of the Senate's majority party offered the quote of the day.

"Is Plan A dead?" Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg rhetorically asked about Brown's proposal. "You know, I'll leave it to the governor to announce the wake and the funeral services."
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Legislators Lose Pay. See You In Court?

June 21, 2011 · Filed Under CA Budget · 13 Comments 

Getty/Justin Sullivan

Given the hard-to-be-lower approval ratings of the California Legislature, there's likely to be a lot of cheers around the state today from Controller John Chiang's decision to cancel the salary and expense payments for the 120 men and women who serve in the Assembly and Senate.

But inside the big domed building just down the street from Chiang's office here in Sacramento it's jeers, not cheers. And the political and legal battle surely to be launched by the actions of the state's chief financial officer add yet another historic footnote to a budget season chock full of noteworthy moments.
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10 Days to Go, Yes, But $10 Billion?

June 20, 2011 · Filed Under CA Budget · 10 Comments 

The historic veto of the state budget by Governor Jerry Brown may have set the stage for some drama in these final few days before the new fiscal year.

But even though the governor insists that his tax package is still the way to go, a case could be made that Brown and his fellow Democrats might be able to agree on solutions that would cut the projected $10 billion deficit in half.
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Politician Pay: All Eyes on Controller

June 19, 2011 · Filed Under CA Budget, CA Politics · Comments Off 

If you think that this week in Sacramento will be dominated by the aftermath of the historic budget veto or the negotiations needed between the two political parties, you're wrong.

All eyes are going to be on the state's chief financial officer to see whether he stops paying the salary and expenses of legislators.
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Podcast: Separation of Powers

June 17, 2011 · Filed Under Podcasts · Comments Off 

The legislative branch has the power of the purse, the executive branch the power to reject those spending plans. A simple part of every civics lesson, rarely on display more clearly than this week in Sacramento.

But also quite clear: a new separation of powers in the Democratic party, one that will need to be sorted out before a state budget is enacted.

This week's Capital Notes Podcast is a look back at a fascinating week that started with no budget... and ended with no budget.

Two top Capitol budget reporters, Kevin Yamamura of the Sacramento Bee and Shane Goldmacher of the Los Angeles Times, stop by to offer some thoughts on everything from the governor's anti-gimmick crusade to the fracas over whether legislators will get paid.

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