State Senate leader says Democrats' super-majority made difference

July 10, 2013|By Patrick McGreevy
  • State Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, pumps his fist in celebration after the Senate completed voting on the remaining pieces of the state budget plan last month. On Wednesday he said the Democrats' super-majority helped them govern.
State Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, pumps… (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated…)

The Democrats’ super-majority in the state Senate has made a real difference in advancing the party’s agenda, but has been used sparingly, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) said Wednesday.

 “This experiment of how a super-majority would perform in California is now 7 months old,” Steinberg told reporters at his Capitol office. “I would say that the early returns are very positive. This year is not nearly done but it is already a year marked by achievement.’’

Steinberg cited approval of an on-time state budget that provides hundreds of millions of additional dollars for mental health, dental care and career technical education.

He said the two-thirds majority was crucial on two proposals that had stalled in past years—an overhaul of the state’s enterprise zone program and approval of a new $75 fee on real estate refinancing to raise $720 million annually for affordable housing.

“We have used it selectively and strategically thus far in the first seven months of the super-majority,” Steinberg said.

The latter measure, SB 391, was sent to the Assembly, which lost its two-thirds majority when Assemblyman Robert Blumenfield (D-Woodland Hills) left July 1 to take a seat on the Los Angeles City Council. A special election has been called that could restore the two-thirds majority in the lower house.

Steinberg said Democrats are showing restraint in putting several proposals for tax increases over until 2014. “I look forward to having a good debate about a number of those measures in 2014 and supporting some of them,” Steinberg said.

The state Senate leader also said he still wants to pare back a proposed $11.1-billion water bond that is on the ballot next year, but he said one obstacle to reaching a compromise is finding agreement on the operating conditions for the Bay Delta Conservation Plan.

“Otherwise there is going to be a big cloud over the bond negotiations,” Steinberg said.


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