Senate Republicans on Revised Budget and Missed Opportunities

Friday, June 19, 2015

SACRAMENTO – Senate Republicans today reaffirmed their budget priorities for the revised budget (Senate Bill 97), and offered several fiscally sound amendments to trailer bills that would commit the state to prioritizing local control over education funds and moving water storage projects through the CEQA process more efficiently. Ultimately, the amendments were not accepted, but the revised budget bill passed on a bipartisan 30-9 vote.

Even though the governor and Republicans are largely in accord on the need for a fiscally responsible budget that uses more conservative revenue projections, the governor has been forced to push and cajole legislative Democrats to restrain spending on less urgent issues and come to agreement on priorities, as recent media accounts have reported.

Excerpts from Senate Republicans on the revised budget and priorities:

Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff (R-San Dimas), link to video clip here:

“I am pleased that this revised budget reduces state spending by over $2 billion and uses the Governor’s more responsible revenue projections. It is a significant improvement over the partisan budget that Democrats passed four days ago. It increases education funding, builds our rainy day fund and pays down our budget debts, leaving our state better prepared for future economic uncertainties. I still believe, however, that we have more work to do to ensure we do not have future deficits that hurt California families. I’m also disappointed that this budget doesn’t reflect Republican priorities to restore health care provider rates and invest money from the cap and trade tax in our crumbling transportation infrastructure.”

Sen. Pat Bates (R-Laguna Niguel):

“The final budget is marginally better, but still gives a false sense of security to Californians that our state is back on track. This budget will spend a record $267 billion, which is $13 billion more than last year’s budget. While I’m glad that it protects some priorities such as K-12 and higher education, it unwisely plants the seeds for a future budget disaster by creating new spending obligations that will surely balloon in future years. Furthermore, the budget needlessly expands government, such as creating new ‘water sheriffs’ that will do little to address California’s drought, while failing to remove the school reserve cap that hinders the ability of local districts to best help their students.”

Sen. Anthony Cannella (R-Ceres), on the amendment to AB 117 to prioritize water storage projects; link to video clip here:

“We’re literally dying in the Central Valley because we don’t have water. We can’t even get the Department of Water Resources to start CEQA on [the Temperance Flat water storage project], and yet the Golden State Warriors have a fast-track or exemption to CEQA. There’re so many projects in my part of the state, with its very high unemployment, very high poverty. We try to build things and we constantly get held up with CEQA. This is a little embarrassing, that it’s in a trailer bill. If it’s good enough to be in law, it should go through a policy committee so that we can talk about it. But to jam it in a trailer bill, where there’s very little discussion, is a little bit of an embarrassment.”

Sen. Jean Fuller (R-Bakersfield) on the budget and her amendment to AB 104 to prioritize local control of school reserves; link to video clip here:

On the budget: “The revised budget spends a record $267 billion, a $13 billion increase over last year. This massive increase in new spending puts our state on a path of unsustainable growth while we continue to struggle with unpaid debt, infrastructure maintenance, and unfunded liabilities.”

On AB 104:  “Our children need a local safety net that protects them and their school districts by providing a school reserve for emergencies. My legislative colleagues failed to make this protection a priority today when they failed to support my motion to remove the cap on emergency fund reserves.”

Sen. Ted Gaines (R-Roseville):

“While the budget plan does include attempts to reduce our wall of debt and save for a rainy day, California still has $200 billion in outstanding liabilities, and we need to route every single spare dollar towards paying it down. Instead we are increasing spending by billions to pay for things like the absurd High Speed Rail project, exorbitant salaries for UC administrators and welfare cash cards for drug felons.”

Sen. John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa):

“We must remember that overspending from past legislatures, combined with growing unfunded liabilities and the lingering effects of the Great Recession, have left California in a weakened fiscal condition. We have a combined unfunded liability of CalPERS, CalSTRS and the UC retirement systems of around $140 billion. We have an unfunded retiree medical obligation of $72 billion. We’re discussing deferred infrastructure maintenance of around $59 billion. We combine that all together and that means that every resident of California has an obligation of $7,000 per capita. Our priorities should be paying down these debts rather than leaving this burden to our children and our grandchildren.”

Sen. Mike Morrell (R-Rancho Cucamonga):

“The overall budget has its strengths, such as paying down debt. But this $267 billion spending plan – the largest in state history – also includes concerning things like welfare cash cards for felons, funding for high-speed rail, and free cell phones with unlimited data and texting plans to name a few. My responsibility is to protect taxpayers. Expenditures like these are neither prudent nor sustainable.”

Sen. Janet Nguyen (R-Garden Grove), link to video clip here

“As a taxpayer advocate, I am disappointed that the budget relied heavily on fees and taxes that take money from the pockets of hard working Californians. Noticeably absent were critical reforms, especially those that would have improved service delivery for Medi-Cal recipients, and beneficiaries of human services programs. While I could not support many of the budget trailer bills for their lack of consideration for the needs of Californians, I was proud to support bills that prioritize the educational and financial well-being of our residents, including: increasing funding for colleges and universities, helping Veterans pay in-state tuition and supporting the poorest Californians through the Earned Income Tax Credit.”

Sen. Sharon Runner (R-Lancaster):

“While I’m thankful this budget shows more fiscal restraint than the budget passed last week, it still comes with costs our state simply can’t afford right now. Unfortunately, I could not support the budget bill today.”

Sen. Jeff Stone (R-Riverside County):

“On Monday, the Legislature passed a budget that spent over $117 billion. Today, we passed a budget that cut that amount by approximately $2 billion. That’s the good news. Governor Brown rightly used more conservative revenue projections than the Legislative Democrats, but sadly his priorities do not fall in line with the people I was elected to represent. That is why I could not in good conscience vote for the revised budget.”

Sen. Andy Vidak (R-Hanford) on the budget and his amendment to AB 117 to prioritize water storage projects; link to video clip here:

On the budget: “Although I didn’t agree with everything in the budget, overall, it prioritizes education, saves for a rainy day and helps reduce the state’s debt.”

On AB 117: “The amendment I offer today very simply would give the same CEQA streamlining benefits you’re giving to wealthy NBA owners and a Hollywood developer so we can build water projects that will benefit farmworkers, small farmers, and the poor living in disadvantaged communities.”