Last Tuesday, Democrats used the new power of simple majority vote to pass a state budget with no Republicans voting in favor of the measures. The budget, which was signed by Governor Brown yesterday, closes the $26.6B budget deficit. Fortunately, the environment remained unscathed in this round of budget negotiations. However, before signing, the governor did use his powers to line-item veto nearly $23.8 million more towards transportation and education programs.
The spending cap, pension reforms and regulatory changes the GOP was seeking, are no where to be found in the most current budget plan. And while it doesn’t include any new taxes, there is $450 million to be cut from unspecified areas in health care. The current budget relies heavily on $4 billion in new revenues in the coming months; should that not happen, it is almost certain that further cuts to universities, public schools and health and human service programs will be further slashed.
During his campaign, Governor Brown promised not to increase or extend taxes without a vote of the people. Getting that initiative on the ballot requires two more Republican votes in each house – something he has been aggressively – but so far unsuccessfully – working on for six months. In an effort to increase revenue, Brown originally held hope that he could extend temporary increases in sales and income taxes for the next five years. With the last of those taxes increases expiring today, Democrats must now decide what tax increases can be allowed given a population that is less than excited about extensions.