SACRAMENTO – California lawmakers passed a record $117.5 billion spending plan with overwhelming support Monday, but the budget that would send more money to public schools and establish a new tax credit for the working poor is unlikely to go into effect.
Democratic leaders were able to galvanize Senate and Assembly lawmakers behind the proposal, but they’re still negotiating with Gov. Jerry Brown, who wants to spend far less and has the ability to reject much or all of the new plan through vetoes.
Brown, a Democrat, doesn’t support new spending for social services. He and Republicans say the state won’t collect as much in tax revenue as Democrats are projecting and that big spending increases could leave the state in a bind if the economy dips.
Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, and Senate leader Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, call their budget a responsible plan that set aside money for savings, pays down debt and boosts education funding.
It adds $749 million to a spending plan Brown pitched recently for the fiscal year that starts next month.
“Our state is on firm financial footing, and that stability gives us an opportunity which has been rare in recent years,” Atkins said.
Legislative Republicans were united in their opposition and called Monday’s vote a ploy to make sure lawmakers don’t miss a paycheck. Under state law, legislators had until midnight to pass a balanced budget or they would have had to forfeit pay.
“Is this a real budget we’re voting on today? Or is this just a sham budget?” said Sen. Jeff Stone, R-Temecula.
The State Controller’s Office said that lawmakers met their deadline by passing AB93, even though they plan to amend it following negotiations with Brown.
The governor’s finance spokesman, H.D. Palmer, said significant progress has been made and that they expect to reach a deal in the next few days.
Brown proposed a $115.3 billion budget last month and the two plans are similar in many ways.
Both call for billions in additional spending for public schools and higher education, money for the rainy day fund and debt payments, and a new earned income tax credit that would help as many as 2 million struggling state residents.
Brown, however, doesn’t want to increase spending to expand welfare, health care or child care programs, since his analysts say the state will collect $3.2 billion less than Democrats have estimated.
The Democratic spending plan calls for opening thousands of child care and preschool slots, providing additional aid to families on welfare who have more children, giving 5 percent pay raises for Medi-Cal doctors and restoring services to a program that helps keep seniors out of nursing homes.
Democrats also want to make California the first state to extend health coverage to children who are in the country illegally.
Senate Republicans, meanwhile, attempted to add a revision of the state’s cap-and-trade program, which aims to reduce industry-related carbon dioxide emissions. The change would have removed fees on companies that produce gasoline and other fuels, which Republicans say has cost consumers at the pump. Democrats immediately rejected the proposal.
The spending plan passed the Assembly on a 53-17 vote, support that included a Republican who voted in favor by mistake. Assemblyman Scott Wilk of Santa Clarita said he was distracted by Facebook at the time and later switched his vote.
The budget cleared the Senate 26-13, with Democrats in support.
De Leon, the Senate leader, said the Legislature did its job Monday and will continue to negotiate with the governor.
“We do not submit ourselves to the executive branch and say whatever it is you want, we’ll do it,” he said. “This is not a monarchy.”
By JUDY LIN
The Associated Press