SAN FRANCISCO — California Gov. Jerry Brown has signed one budget reform bill and vetoed another, while hinting that more change is on the way.
The new law signed Sunday, Senate Bill 15, requires a three-year forecast to be included as part of any proposed or adopted budget as well as a five-year infrastructure spending plan.
However, Brown said no to the other budget reform measure, Senate Bill 14, that would have required performance-based budgeting for all state programs including local agencies, contractors, and others with a “material relationship” with the state.
“This bill is another siren song of budget reform,” according to Brown, who wrote an extended veto message. “The hard truth is that this bill will mandate thousands of hours of work — at the cost of tens of millions of dollars — with little chance of actual improvement.”
The governor said he would issue an executive order on budget reform in the coming weeks that will include ideas from SB 14 with “the practical, tailored approach that I believe will make an actual difference.”
According to Standard & Poor’s California analyst Gabriel Petek, the multi-year forecast legislation is important from a credit perspective and should help policy makers better understand the possible impact of their budget decisions on future years.
“Regarding the performance-based budgeting legislation, the governor’s veto message made some valid points. The recent spending reductions require that the state make an efficient use of the resources it has,” Petek said in an e-mail.
Petek said Standard & Poor’s analysis of other states has found that the executive branch is sometimes in a better position to push budget reform.
California’s budget process could use a tune-up.
Brown signed the state’s $85.9 billion spending plan on the final day of the fiscal year.
The budget plan relies on cuts that will be triggered in tiers if revenue estimates later in the year fail to line up as projected.
Lawmakers, relying on the Democratic majority, passed a budget based mainly on spending cuts along with $4 billion of anticipated additional future revenue to fill a $9.6 billion hole.
It was only the second time in a decade the state budget deadline was met.
The Legislative Analyst’s Office and the California Department of Finance will generate new revenue forecasts for fiscal 2012 in November and December, and those numbers will determine if the cuts need to be triggered.
The bulk of the tax collections are expected to come in from December through June.
California is the lowest rated state in the country, carrying A-minus ratings from both Fitch Ratings and Standard & Poor’s and an A1 from Moody’s Investors Service.