Gov. Jerry Brown wasted little time today when he vetoed the budget package California legislators presented him less than 24 hours prior.
Brown said in a statement that the budget – which lawmakers passed with a simple majority yesterday and without any Republican support – was not financially viable and contained "legally questionable maneuvers, costly borrowing and unrealistic savings." He now has just two weeks to reach a deal with lawmakers before the start of the next fiscal year on July 1.
"We can – and must – do better. A balanced budget is critical to our economic recovery," Brown said in the statement, adding that he will continue efforts to win the Republican votes needed to get tax extensions on the November ballot. Brown needs four Republicans to support his proposed ballot measure, something he has repeatedly failed to do since taking office in January.
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"I am, once again, calling on Republicans to allow the people of California to vote on tax extensions for a balanced budget and significant reform," Brown said. "They should also join Democrats in supporting job creation and ending tax breaks for out-of-state companies. If they continue to obstruct a vote, we will be forced to pursue deeper and more destructive cuts to schools and public safety – a tragedy for which Republicans will bear full responsibility."
State Controller John Chiang, meanwhile, issued a statement that left open the possibility that lawmakers will be docked pay for not fulfilling the requirements of a "balanced" budget in which expenditures do not exceed projected revenues.
"I support the Governor's decision today to call upon legislators – from both parties – to try again," Chiang said in the statement, adding that his office will begin to assess whether the budget pencils out once they receive the final bill language. Legislators are scheduled to be paid next on June 30.
Of the current budget package, Brown has vetoed only the two main bills, leaving the rest of the package - which includes $1.7 billion in state funding from redevelopment agencies, $1.2 billion from the temporary sale of a dozen state buildings and more than $800 million in anticipated tax revenue, among other things - up in the air.
The budget also would cut an another $150 million from the UC, CSU and court systems, and delay the repayment of nearly $3 billion to K-12 schools. In addition, it would direct $300 million from increased vehicle registration fees to help fund local law enforcement agencies, which rely heavily on money from taxes slated to expire next month.
Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, and Assembly Speaker John A. Perez, D-Los Angeles, said they were dismayed by Brown's decision to veto the package.
Steinberg stressed that while he will continue to support Brown's initial "Plan A," the clock is running out for him to give lawmakers details of what he wants to see changed.
"We are too far down the road for the governor to continue avoiding a specific proposal of what he intends to do or wants to be done," he said at a press conference.
Perez echoed the sentiment and said Democratic legislators did the "the most responsible thing we could do" when Brown failed to secure Republican support.
"We passed an on-time, balanced budget with cuts based on the reality of the economic crisis," Perez said. "We didn't go further because more cuts would have been devastating. We stand by the actions we took yesterday."
Both Steinberg and Perez scoffed at the notion that lawmakers passed a budget simply to ensure that they would not be docked pay pursuant to Proposition 25, which voters passed last year.
Steinberg went on to call Brown's veto "completely unnecessary," adding that the governor should be more concerned with what the backup plan will look like if the tax extensions don't make it onto the ballot.
"We made a two-thirds dent in the structural deficit," Steinberg said. "What's wrong with declaring partial victory and then finishing the work?"
California Republican Party Chairman Tom Del Beccaro, meanwhile, asserted that the threat of losing pay weighed on Democratic legislators when they pushed the budget through yesterday.
It remains to be seen when talks between Brown and Republican lawmakers will resume.
"The only thing the governor and the legislative Democrats can agree on is that, somehow, this is all the Republicans' fault," he said in the statement. "The sooner the Democrats start acting in the interests of all the people, and not just their public union masters, the sooner we can reach bi-partisan agreement on an honest budget solution for California."