ALAMEDA, Calif. — The California Legislature adopted a budget bill for fiscal 2012 last week, though the toughest decisions required by that plan were deferred until this week.
The lawmakers passed an $86.6 billion general fund spending plan, though they remain about $11 billion short of being able to pay for it.
Gov. Jerry Brown has so far been unable to muster support for his two keystone budget proposals, a special election to ask the state’s voters to extend temporary tax hikes, and the elimination of the state’s local redevelopment agencies.
The spending plan passed Thursday on party-line votes, with majority Democrats in favor and Republicans opposed.
Democrats pushed the plan through under the terms of Proposition 25, a measure adopted by voters last November that allows budgets to pass with a simple majority vote, instead of the previously required two-thirds.
The budget enacts almost all of the program cuts Brown proposed in January to close what is estimated as a $26.6 billion budget gap. But those cuts and fund shifts close only about half of the gap.
“We did what we set out to do, to put a significant dent in the budget deficit,” said Senate President pro tempore Darrell Steinberg. “We know we have a lot more work to do.”
That remaining work requires two-thirds majority votes. The effort to abolish redevelopment agencies stalled last week in the Assembly at one vote shy of that threshold. Democrats lined up behind it, but the bill only achieved one of the two needed GOP votes. That came from Orange County Assemblyman Chris Norby, a long time critic of RDAs.
Brown has also been negotiating with a group of five Republican senators who have indicated they may provide the votes needed to put a budget package on the ballot. They have said Brown has not been able to promise them the level of pension or regulatory reform they want in exchange for their votes.
The tax extensions would provide about $11 billion in fiscal 2012, according to a legislative staff report. If they don’t reach the ballot or voters reject the proposal, more cuts would be needed.
Proceedings were on hold over the weekend for a state Republican Party convention in Sacramento. Lawmakers are expected to reconvene on Monday.