Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Setting the Record Straight

Today, the governor held a press conference that reminded me of the phrase “everyone is entitled to his own opinion but not his own facts.”

As was expected, the governor pointed the finger at the Legislature to explain why we do not have a budget revision in place today. But this criticism, among other things he said, is simply a manipulation of the facts. So, let me set the record straight. Consider these examples:
The Legislature only had endless hearings and no negotiations – The Conference Committee had public hearings to give the public a say in the public’s budget. And, we have had negotiations. But the governor has consistently used Republican legislators to blow up the agreements we have made.
The Legislature is protecting special interests – This is true only if one defines special interests to be children, the elderly, the disabled, college students from working families, and state park lovers. Conference Committee protected the people of California from their own governor. That is why we rejected the governor’s proposals to eliminate healthcare for a million children, to eliminate welfare to work programs while unemployment in teeters over 11%, to eliminate CalGrants, and to close 220 state parks.
The Legislature must look at reforming state pensions, CalWORKS, and in-home care - Here we go again. Remember the multi-million dollar 2005 special election no one but the governor wanted? Every single one of the so-called “reform” initiatives written by the governor were resoundingly rejected by the voters. The governor is bringing them back and doesn’t want public scrutiny of the sweeping policy changes he wants as part of a budget agreement.
The Legislature must solve the entire budget problem – The Legislature has solved the entire budget problem, including adopting many - but not all - of the governor's own proposals. The Conference Budget provides $23.6 billion in budget solutions that would have resolved our $19.5 billion deficit, including a $4.1 billion reserve. And, the majority vote budget provides $23.5 billion in budget solutions with a $4 billion reserve.

The governor also said that he wants to fully fund education. But the governor’s new budget proposal submitted today would suspend Proposition 98.

While the governor spins the state into chaos, California pays the price. Our fiscal condition continues to deteriorate. A court ruled that the state’s transfer of transit funds is illegal, potentially costing the state up to $3.4 billion. The National Park Service advised California that they would take over several state parks if the governor insists on closing them. And, the governor rejected his administration’s agreement with the federal receiver on state prison health care.

As we move forward, the context of our work is now shaped by three announcements made by the governor today:
• The governor signed an executive order requiring state workers to have three furlough days a month, the equivalent of a 14 percent pay cut;
• The governor called an emergency session under Proposition 58, which means the Legislature has 45 days to act on the budget; and
• The governor will not sign any legislation until the budget is passed.

Despite the governor’s antics, the Assembly passed a package of budget bills today that – with the exception of the first item – is similar to what the governor vetoed yesterday:
• AB x3 7 – Provides the State Controller with flexibility to manage IOUs so that they may be redeemed earlier than October for payment, pending the passage of a state budget revision;
• AB x3 10 – Enacts $7.9 billion in spending reductions; and
• ABx3 19 – Provides $4.4 billion in accelerated revenues and tax compliance measures.

Further information about these bills will be available here.