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California Assembly to cast final vote on state budget

The California Assembly will return to work on Friday from their summer recess to vote on a spending plan that closes the state’s estimated $54.3 billion deficit through a combination of temporary tax increases, delayed spending and cuts to colleges, courts and state worker salaries.

Posted: Jun 26, 2020 8:36 AM

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — The California Assembly will return to work on Friday from their summer recess to vote on a spending plan that closes the state’s estimated $54.3 billion deficit through a combination of temporary tax increases, delayed spending and cuts to colleges, courts and state worker salaries.

The vote comes after the state Senate approved the $202.1 billion spending plan late Thursday, hours after Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a “budget emergency” for the first time. The move gives the Legislature permission to take nearly $8 billion from the state’s primary savings account to avoid even deeper spending cuts amid an economic downturn caused by the coronavirus and a subsequent stay-at-home order that has caused more than 6.7 million Californians to file for unemployment benefits.

With state revenues plummeting because of the economic downturn, Newsom proposed billions of dollars in cuts to public schools and health care programs to balance the budget. But the Democratic-controlled Legislature refused, working out a deal with Newsom that, instead of permanent cuts, delayed billions of dollars in expenses to future years — a tactic that saves money now but makes next year’s budget more difficult to balance.

“We’ve had to exert restraint and reductions in spending that we don’t feel great about,” Senate President Pro Tempore Toni Atkins said. “We are able to pass this budget today that does not slash school and health and human services programs. We should applaud ourselves for being able to do that.”

The budget does cut $150 million from the court system, $2.8 billion from employee salaries, $1.7 billion from public colleges and universities and $248 million from housing programs. All of that money would be restored if the federal government sends the state at least $14 billion in additional aid by Oct. 15.

Lawmakers also temporarily raised taxes on some businesses to generate $4.4 billion in additional revenue. And they borrowed money from other programs, including $30 million from a fund to respond to oil spills and $100 million from a fund that helps AIDS patients pay for their medication — although it would give the money back should the program run out of funds.

The budget is a complex package of 19 separate bills that direct spending on education, health care, housing, pensions, transportation and other services. Thursday, most Senate Republicans opposed the bills, criticizing Democrats for cutting salary of state highway patrol officers and starting the process of closing two state prisons.

The bills are supposed to only cover budgetary matters, but they often include some surprise policy proposals — including an effort this year by the Newsom administration to expand the state’s assault weapons ban.

That proposal targets gun manufacturers’ attempts to craft an assault-style weapon that gets around the state’s ban. The Newsom administration says none of these guns are being sold in California right now but there is a pending lawsuit seeking to change that.

“We wanted to make sure these weapons aren’t on the street. We think they are a public safety threat and we feel there is an urgency to act now,” Aaron Edwards, who works in Newsom’s Department of Finance, told lawmakers on Wednesday.

Republican state Sen. Jim Nielsen said it was a “breach of the public trust” to force through a change like that at the last minute, saying constituents should have been allowed to have input.

Lawmakers did find money for some new spending. For the first time, California will allow immigrants who don’t have a social security number to be eligible for a credit that increases the size of their state tax refunds. But it only applies to people who have a child 5 and younger, leaving out hundreds of thousands of people who don’t qualify.

Advocates have been working for years to expand the credit to immigrants, both those who live in the U.S. legally and illegally but who have jobs and pay taxes. Sasha Feldstein, economic justice policy manager for the California Immigrant Policy Center, said expanding the credit will help many but she was disappointed it won’t include everyone.

“Our state is still settling for essentially incremental economic equity,” she said.

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 3559311

Reported Deaths: 51794
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles118923221241
Riverside2894503767
San Bernardino2860772783
Orange2607213982
San Diego2589823260
Santa Clara1102371777
Kern102627811
Fresno950151422
Sacramento929611464
Alameda802791241
Ventura77395834
San Joaquin665691082
Contra Costa62164674
Stanislaus55887946
Tulare47784746
Monterey42138327
San Mateo38872515
San Francisco34138398
Santa Barbara31763407
Solano30024164
Merced28915395
Sonoma28004298
Imperial26855589
Kings21951218
Placer19763232
San Luis Obispo19612227
Madera15414209
Santa Cruz14588183
Marin13136197
Yolo12787185
Shasta10969174
Butte10922160
El Dorado9095100
Napa899869
Sutter884597
San Benito575259
Yuba573336
Lassen560119
Tehama508152
Tuolumne394659
Nevada394074
Mendocino379643
Amador344841
Humboldt318033
Lake314140
Glenn221923
Colusa212813
Calaveras190547
Siskiyou174014
Inyo128736
Mono12114
Del Norte9875
Plumas6536
Modoc4524
Mariposa3957
Trinity3675
Sierra990
Alpine810
Unassigned00
Chico
Clear
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Hi: 64° Lo: 41°
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Oroville
Clear
53° wxIcon
Hi: 62° Lo: 43°
Feels Like: 53°
Chico
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Hi: 56° Lo: 38°
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Red Bluff
Clear
55° wxIcon
Hi: 43° Lo: 14°
Feels Like: 55°
Red Bluff
Clear
55° wxIcon
Hi: 61° Lo: 42°
Feels Like: 55°
Chico
Clear
50° wxIcon
Hi: 66° Lo: 43°
Feels Like: 50°
Windy & sunny conditions continue Sunday with more sunshine next week. Next weekend there will be a chance for some showers.
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