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NOTE: CalMatters’ columnist Dan Walters provides a solid snapshot of California’s budget process.
The Legislature’s Democratic supermajority put on something of a show Monday as they pretended to pass a new state budget.
There were floor speeches, formal roll call votes and a deluge of self-congratulatory statements after the day’s activities. …
However, it was just a sham driven by the state constitution’s requirement that legislators pass a budget by June 15 or see their salaries suspended.
Republican Sen. James Nielsen captured the situation when he said, “This is a fake budget. It’s a feel-good budget. It’s a let-us-get-paid budget. But what we’re voting on is not going to be the budget.”
It’s not going to be the budget because [Speaker] Rendon and [Senate pro Tem] Atkins still must settle disagreements with Gov. Gavin Newsom, not only on how much to spend but even how much revenue they have to spend.
A decade ago, the Big 5 [Republican and Democratic legislative leadership plus governor] became the Big 3, excluding Republicans, … voters approved a 2010 ballot measure, largely sponsored by public employee unions, that reduced the vote needed to pass a budget to a simple majority.
Proposition 25’s sponsors cited months-long delays in passing budgets …
… Legislators were thus empowered to pass what they deemed to be a budget bill by June 15, even though — as is happening this year — it may not be a finished product.
Proposition 25 contained another piece of procedural mischief, allowing any bill the Legislature declared to be connected to the budget to also be enacted with simple majority votes. Thus, budget “trailer bills” often became vehicles for major changes in state policy without full committee hearings and other traditional exposure.
The misuse of trailer bills sparked another ballot measure in 2016, Proposition 54, requiring that bills be in print — and available for public viewing — for at least 72 hours before enactment. It didn’t stop the procedural abuses, but at least made them more obvious.
… the complete budget picture will not emerge for weeks and even months as trailer bills and budget modification measures dribble out of the Capitol.