Despite Republican efforts, Senate Democrats voted today to withdraw several of their budget bills from the Senate Rules Committee and send them directly to the Senate Floor. This 23-9 party line vote denied the public the opportunity to review and comment on the impact of the budget legislation during open and public budget hearings.
Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff says millions of Californians deserve the opportunity to read the budget bills and contact their elected representatives in the days leading up to their final vote. “This is $230 billion dollars’ worth of partisan budget legislation produced behind closed doors by essentially three people. There hasn’t been a single public hearing on the actual bills that will have actual impacts on very real people. I’m confident that California voters did not intend government openness and transparency to suffer when they gave the Legislature simple-majority budget powers, but there’s no question that’s the case now.”
“Even during the Budget Conference Committee hearing last Monday night,” adds Huff, “when so much of what was voted on was simply approving what was already agreed to behind closed doors, the actual budget language did not exist.”
Senator Bill Emmerson (R-Redlands), Vice Chairman of the Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee, also opposed the motion by Democrats today. “The budget has changed considerably since it was introduced in January and unfortunately, the final version was constructed with no public input. The people of California deserve better. They deserve the opportunity to provide their testimony on how the budget will impact their lives and communities. That’s why I opposed this motion on the Senate Floor today.”
Under the Joint Rules, any bill with fiscal impacts must be heard in either the Budget or Appropriations committees before it can be sent to the Senate floor for passage. In order to meet the June 15th state constitutional deadline for passing a balanced budget, a majority of Senate Democrats tomorrow are expected to vote to waive those rules before voting to approve the 2013-14 budget legislation.