Republicans dismayed by state budget outcome

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

While California Democrats are trumpeting the successful passage of a budget one day before the constitutional deadline of June 15, conservative legislators are criticizing the plan’s failure to address ongoing fiscal crises and calling out their liberal counterparts for not including Republicans in the process.

According to Assemblywoman Shannon Grove, members of the lower house were asked to pass the bill Friday morning when it had only been released at 2:40 a.m. that day — before the bill was even in print.

Conservatives called the document a “betrayal of the average Californian.”

Grove stated in her opposition to the bill that the state was essentially misappropriating taxes passed under the guise of saving the environment and protecting education and funneling those revenues into programs such as high-speed rail.

(See related story for Grove’s comments on realignment.)

Other conservative legislators expressed concern about the state’s failure to identify a rainy-day fund, failure to address regulatory relief for small businesses, failure to correct deficits in rural health care, an assumption of overly optimistic revenue projections that have historically failed to materialize, $500 billion in unfunded pension liabilities and continued reliance upon one-time funds to sustain long-term obligations.

Assembly Speaker John Perez said the Republicans’ objections amounted to a failure to govern. “It’s easy to say no.” He said Republicans instead need to stand up and govern.

Minority Leader Connie Con-way said that she and her fellow Republicans stand ready to work, but were cut out of the process of building the budget. She said that conservatives were not invited to the table for discussions and negotiations, but instead blindsided by the document only hours before being expected to vote on it.

“The democratic process is meant to include everyone, not just Democrats.”

“While this is disappointing, it’s no surprise that the Democrats continue to fund new programs with complete disregard for any sense of fiscal responsibility to California’s taxpayers,” Grove said in a statement released over the weekend.

State Senator Jean Fuller ex-pressed similar disappointment about the budget bill’s failure to address the state’s long-term debt and reliance on borrowing funds.

“Though it provides fairer funding to rural school districts, including those in the Central Valley, it does not use all of the Proposition 30 funds for education as voters were promised last fall,” said Fuller.

She also criticized the process of holding bills until the last moment, preventing conservative legislators adequate time to thoroughly review the budget proposals and trailer bills.

“Taxpayers will hopefully soon learn about other reckless ways the state manages its budget in a process that still lacks full transparency.”

The final budget votes in both houses reflected the deeply held partisanship that continues to hold up state politics. Because Democrats have a super-majority in both houses, Republican opposition did nothing to prevent the budget from moving forward.

Story First Published: 2013-06-19