SAN FRANCISCO - The headline news in Sacramento is the budget deadlock that has prevented California from adopting a budget for the fiscal year that started almost eight weeks ago.
Though budget negotiations are in a state of paralysis, lawmakers have been working through their files of other bills, including some municipal bond-related legislation that they approved last week.
The remaining question is, absent a budget, will Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger follow through on his threat to veto every other bill that crosses his desk? It would take several more weeks without a budget to get that question answered, though, because lawmakers responded with the procedural move of holding all bills that pass before the final step of sending them to the governor.
Among the legislation that passed last week was a bill sponsored by state Treasurer Bill Lockyer.
It would authorize the California Alternative Energy and Advanced Transportation Financing Authority - which is staffed by the Treasurer's Office - to issue energy prepayment bonds to help state agencies and schools install renewable energy systems.
Lockyer's vision is that renewable energy developers would construct renewable energy facilities at government buildings or schools, entering into a power purchase agreement through the authority, according to a Senate staff analysis.
"Under the PPA, the developer would promise to deliver a specified amount of electricity to the state building or school," the analysis said. "In return, the authority would issue electricity prepayment bonds and use the proceeds to provide the developer an up-front payment for the promised energy."
The bill cleared its final hurdle Thursday, passing the Senate 25 to 12.
Lawmakers last week also gave final approval to a bill that would authorize school and community college districts to issue general obligation bonds backed by a special property tax to finance housing for teachers and other employees.
Unlike most local school bond measures, which can pass with 55% of the vote, bonds that would be used for housing would require a two-thirds vote.
"California has very high housing costs in several areas and many teachers, especially younger ones, are priced out of their school district's housing market," Assemblyman Alberto Torrico, D-Newark, said in a statement after the bill passed. "With support from their local community, they can live closer to campus and spend more time with students rather than spending it stuck in traffic."
The bill cleared the Assembly Wednesday on a 45-to-31 vote.
Also getting final approval last week was a bill to allow Riverside County Transportation Commission to build high-occupancy toll lanes on its segment of the State Route 91 freeway. Similar HOT lanes already exist on the adjoining Orange County segment of the highway, and the bill also would authorize the Orange County Transportation Authority to collect those tolls through 2065, instead of its current 2030 deadline.
The next step for the bills is the governor's desk, though when they get there remains open to question.
Schwarzenegger, annoyed that lawmakers were doing so much other work while the budget languished, said earlier this month that he would veto any other bills he gets before a budget is delivered.
At this late point in the session, which is supposed to adjourn Aug. 31, Schwarzenegger gets the whole month of September to decide what actions he will take on any bills he receives.