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California Legislature kicks off consideration of budget

June 14, 2013|By Melanie Mason and Patrick McGreevy | This post has been corrected. See the note below for details.
  • Gov. Jerry Brown discusses the budget agreement flanked by Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), left, and Assembly Speaker John Perez (D-Los Angeles) at a Capitol news conference Tuesday. Lawmakers began voting on the deal Friday.
Gov. Jerry Brown discusses the budget agreement flanked by Senate President… (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated…)

SACRAMENTO -- The California Legislature has begun its consideration of the 2013 state budget, with both houses convening for debate and votes at 10 a.m. Friday.

"Members, we’ve come a long way," said Assembly Budget Committee Chairman Robert Blumenfield (D-Woodland Hills), introducing the main budget bill on the Assembly floor. 

Gov. Jerry Brown and top lawmakers announced the $96.3-billion accord earlier this week. The agreement used Brown's more conservative revenue estimates, but also included some restoration of funds to social welfare services, a priority of Democratic lawmakers in the Legislature.

"This budget is a compromise," Blumenfield said. "Especially because of our limited means, we cannot provide for all the legitimate needs of the state. Our duty is to prioritize where we can spend public’s money for the greatest good."

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) told reporters on the Senate floor that he felt  very good about the budget, although he said there was a chance lawmakers would have to meet Saturday to complete their work.

"I've had a lot of budget vote days and this is one of the happiest ones because for the first time in many years we're actually able to do some positive things for people, all while committing to fiscal stability, a billion-dollar reserve, paying down of significant debt," Steinberg said.

"When I look at helping 3 million low income Californians who need dental care, at mental health for the first time in California budget history being the lead [budget] increase, that's something I'm very proud of," Steinberg said.

The deal was not met with universal acclaim. Republicans, who have been marginalized from the budget-crafting process thanks to the Democratic supermajority in both houses, slammed the agreement as too costly and insufficient in addressing the state's debt obligations.

"With this budget, we have positioned ourselves perfectly to repeat the mistakes of the past," said Assemblyman Jeff Gorell (R-Camarillo).

In all, lawmakers will consider 25 budget bills. Debate is expected to last all day Friday and could spill over to Saturday, which is the deadline for the Legislature to approve a spending plan.

[For the record, 12:29 p.m. June 14: An earlier version of this post misidentified Assembly Budget Committee Chairman Robert Blumenfield as Robert Blumenthal.]


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