SACRAMENTO — An estimated $101 billion state budget failed to win Assembly support Wednesday, with Republicans following their Senate counterparts and withholding their votes.
The party-line vote was 50-28, four shy of the two-thirds approval needed to send a budget to Gov. Gray Davis.
“There’s work to be done,” said Assemblyman George Runner, R-Lancaster, who sat on a legislative budget negotiating committee.
For Republicans, that work involves a quarter-cent increase in the state sales tax that will automatically take effect next year because of declining state revenues.
To pass, the budget needs votes from at least one Senate Republican and four in the Assembly.
Tuesday night, all 14 Senate Republicans stuck together to oppose the budget.
Democrats – who control both houses of the Legislature and the governor’s office – Wednesday accused GOP lawmakers of stalling for political reasons.
The failed plan, Democrats said, boosts education spending, trims more than $1 billion in new spending proposed in January and includes a $2.2 billion reserve fund.
The budget is “thoughtful and intelligently responds to the needs of Californians, given our current situation,” said Assembly Speaker Robert Hertzberg, D-Van Nuys.
Analysts have said the state will face deficits in the next two years because of a sinking stock market and incomes
A booming economy triggered a quarter-cent cut in the sales tax last Jan. 1.
That was because of a sales tax adjustment included in a 1991 law introduced by Republican Gov. Pete Wilson. The tax is now 7 percent statewide but higher in some counties.
Assemblywoman Sarah Reyes, D-Fresno, said the sales tax increase would amount to pennies a day for the average Californian. “Six pennies a day from Californians, that’s it,” she said.
Now, as the budget process has reached the deadlock predicted by legislators of both parties, it’s time for the serious bargaining that accompanies most budget negotiations.
Democratic leaders say they’ll look for Republicans in either chamber who may switch their votes in exchange for a specific deal.
The final deals will likely be concluded in closed meetings involving five top elected officials, party leaders and Davis.
The 2001-02 budget likely won’t be done before the Sunday deadline. However, previous court rulings and history show state government will not shutdown because of a late budget.
Davis has signed the budget on time for the past two years since he took office, when the state was flush with money.
But in the past two decades the budget has been signed 12 times after July 1, including the 1992 budget Wilson signed on Sept. 2.
On the Net:
Read about the budget at http://www.lao.ca.gov