The Republican lawmakers who have been negotiating a budget deal with Gov. Jerry Brown recently declared that the talks were stalling because Democrats were unwilling to make meaningful concessions. Given that they need at least a few GOP votes in each chamber to pass key parts of the budget package, Democrats aren't in a position to say no to everything the minority proposes. But Republicans have to be reasonable too, and the changes they're seeking in the California Environmental Quality Act don't pass that test.
The loose-knit group of Senate Republicans who've been talking privately to Brown have laid out several broad demands, including a firm spending cap and restructured pension benefits. Some of the issues they've raised are well worth exploring, but it's been hard to judge what they're seeking because so few details have been made public. The one exception is their proposal for weakening the California Environmental Quality Act, a draft of which was recently obtained by Times reporters Shane Goldmacher and Evan Halper.
That law, which is a vital piece of the state's efforts to protect the environment, requires local and state agencies to consider the effect that a proposed project would have on the environment before giving it the green light. But ever since CEQA was adopted in 1970, businesses and their allies in Sacramento have sought changes to reduce the uncertainty and delay it can cause.