Legislation Update - 06/13/2010

The two-house Budget Conference Committee began meeting today after the budget sub-committees finished their work earlier in the week. There are ten members of the Conference Committee this year, instead of the usual six. Senator Denise Ducheny is again the chair of the Budget Conference Committee.

The Assembly conferees are:

  • Bob Blumenfield (D – Van Nuys) – Chair, Assembly Budget Committee
  • Felipe Fuentes (D – Los Angeles) – Chair, Assembly Appropriations Committee
  • Nancy Skinner (D – Berkeley) – Chair, Assembly Rules Committee
  • Jim Nielsen (R – Biggs) – Vice Chair, Assembly Budget Committee
  • Connie Conway (R – Visalia) – Vice Chair, Assembly Appropriations Committee

The Senate conferees are:

  • Denise Ducheny (D – San Diego) – Chair, Senate Budget Committee
  • Mark Leno (D – San Francisco) – Chair, Public Safety Committee
  • Alan Lowenthal (D – Long Beach) – Chair, Transportation and Housing Committee
  • Bob Dutton (R – Inland Empire) – Vice Chair, Senate Budget Committee
  • Bob Huff (R – Diamond Bar) – Vice Chair, Education Committee and Budget Sub-committee #1 on Education Finance

In opening testimony today, the Legislative Analyst, Mac Taylor, warned of the state's ability to fund the Proposition 98 minimum guarantee, stating "I don't know how you get around suspension [of Prop 98] this year." He also noted that if additional revenues are part of the solution (as the Assembly has proposed), that will increase the General Fund – driving the Proposition 98 guarantee higher, making suspension even more difficult to avoid.

Regarding state cash flow, Taylor noted that "we're at the end of the road on what we can take from schools." He also noted that the Controller believes the state has enough cash to last through the end of August, but that October will be very tight and that the Controller will likely start withholding payments in August to ensure funds are available in October.

The LAO predicts budget problems for at least two years and recommends that at least half of the solution in the budget-year be on-going solutions.

When pushed to reflect on the Assembly's proposal to rely on borrowing and revenue increases, he noted that it could be held up in the courts and deepen the problem. He also noted that the language is not yet available and that the devil could be in the details (a sentiment echoed by Republicans). Assembly Member Blumenfield noted that everything in the Assembly package has been done before.

Education is not scheduled to be discussed in the Conference Committee until Thursday (6/10).

It still looks like a long summer. No one is suggesting that a budget will be completed by the June 15 Constitutional deadline, nor even the June 30 date to have it signed by the Governor.

A link to Taylor's presentation is found here: http://www.lao.ca.gov/handouts/conf_comm/2010/Overview_Budget_Plans.pdf

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