Assembly members disagree on how
to handle $23.6 billion deficit
SACRAMENTO — The California Assembly is poised to make a third attempt Tuesday to approve an overdue state budget, but few are holding out hope that it will end the 57-day budget impasse.
The vote is scheduled to come with five days left in the legislative session and intensifying pressure to approve a $99.1 billion spending plan that already is two months late.
The state Capitol hummed Monday with dueling press briefings, speculation whether a budget will be passed before midnight Saturday and private exchanges of blame.
But above the din, lawmakers appeared Monday to be exactly where they were on June 29 when state senators quickly and surgically passed a budget and lobbed it to their counterparts in the state Assembly.
“We want a resolution of this budget as much, if not more than, the Democrats do but we don’t see it as happening real soon,” said Republican Assemblyman John Campbell, R-Irvine. “The long and short is that we are a long ways apart.”
The sticking point seems simple.
Republicans say they disagree with $3.7 billion in tax increases included in the plan originally sculpted by Gov. Gray Davis, who is faced with a $23.6 billion budget deficit in the same year he is seeking re-election against Republican Bill Simon.
GOP members say they would prefer the Democrats cut from what they call bloated government programs.
But that is where the simplicity ends. Democrats say their GOP colleagues have not spelled out what they would cut and insist that abandoning tax increases would mean carving dramatically into programs for the poor, elderly and children.