Tuesday, June 15, 2010

No Republican Budget Plan? No Surprise.

June 15 is the Constitutional deadline for the Legislature to pass a budget, a feat not accomplished since 1986. The date is never a surprise. So, what is the holdup?

This year, the governor has a budget plan. Ditto for the Democrats in the Assembly and the Senate. But we haven’t heard a peep from our Republican colleagues. They have presented no plan to address our $19.1 billion deficit. Instead, the Senate Republican leadership claims the Legislature as a whole is resistant to dealing with reality. In fact, it is Republican legislators who refuse to deal with reality while feigning outrage at delay they are causing. This is getting old. Indeed, their silence creates paralyzing gridlock.

This year is by no means unique in this respect. The only budget “proposal” that I have ever seen from Republican legislators was two years ago on August 30, 2008 - an astonishing 76 days after the deadline to pass a budget. That proposal was really only a press release. In my six years as a legislator, I have never seen another one.

If Republicans stick with their usual tactics, we won’t hear a peep from them during Conference Committee either. They will wait it out in order to push an extreme right-wing agenda through the Big 5 process.

The elimination of the 8-hour work day…the expansion of offshore oil drilling…tax cuts for the wealthiest of corporations while taxes rise on working people. What do they all have in common? They were pursued by Republicans behind the scenes through Big 5 processes. These attacks on the values of working Californians are why we must all support Speaker John Perez and his commitment to keep budget negotiations out of the Big 5.

Our budget process must empower the people, not special interests gaming the system for goodies. The budget belongs to the people. That is why I call on my Republican colleagues to come clean, come out of the shadows, and have the courage to share a comprehensive budget proposal with the public.