Background Information on Senate Budget Floor Motions

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Earlier today, Senate Democrats took the first step in advancing 40 spot budget bills (empty shell budget bills) to the Assembly.  It is clear that the goal of this effort is to set up a last minute budget vote that lacks transparency and public involvement.

It is anticipated that a similar effort will occur in the Assembly.  One result of this effort will be that budget related bills, when budget language finally emerges, will be voted on in each house for concurrence votes only.

Senate Republicans believe that the budget process should begin in the Senate Budget Committee with the objective of putting actual budget language in print for public review and thorough consideration by all 40 Members of the Senate prior to Senate Floor votes.

Senate Budget Chairman Leno’s motion to withdraw the bills from the Senate Rules Committee to the Senate Floor completely by-passes the Senate Budget Committee.

Despite Senate Republican objection to the motion, the motion passed on a vote of 24-14 with all Republicans present voting “No” and all Democrats present voting “Aye.”

Senator Bill Emmerson then made a motion that all of the bills be re-referred to the Senate Budget Committee.  That motion failed on a vote of 14-23 with Republicans voting “Aye” and Democrats voting “No.”

The Issues:

Over the past few weeks Senate Republicans have listened in Budget Committee as several members that were on the Senate floor today stated the Governor’s budget proposals need further policy debate and discussion in Committee.

  • These empty “spot” bills should be referred to the appropriate budget subcommittee (or policy committee) for that discussion to take place. 

  • They should be amended in those budget committees as needed to reflect those discussions and the public should have the opportunity to see that language in print before it is voted on and sent to the Assembly.

Democrat Members in Budget Committee have said:

During the February 23 Hearing on Medi-Cal Long Term Care –

  •  “…I think the entire budget proposal by the administration does offer many concepts, policy changes that policy committees ought to take a look at.”

  • “…these are very clearly changes in policy directions, and seems to me good in many ways, if we can solve some of the problems that have come up, that indeed, policy review by policy committee would be in order.”

During the February 16 Hearing on Education Reform –

  • “…I am very troubled that we are moving very quickly without really knowing what those impacts will be or how much savings will occur, without having discussed this in the policy committees. So, I again, I concur with others who say, let’s see this in a policy committee.”

“Show us!  Show us!:

  • The Senate should not play hide the pea with the empty “shell” bills. 

  • Three days ago there were thousands of students here at the Capitol chanting “Show us! Show us!”…the majority party should show them its plans. 

  • Show the people of California their plans – then the Senate should vote on them.  Senate Republicans believe the budget committee is perfectly capable of discussing and debating these measures.

  • The Senate should vote on a real budget plan – not simply expedite a last minute, closed door budget deal without public scrutiny or transparency.