Davis to sign budget, lawmakers prepare for next battle

By Jessica Brice The Associated Press
Thursday September 05, 2002

SACRAMENTO — Gov. Gray Davis said Wednesday he will eliminate another 1,000 government jobs on top of the 6,000 already slated to be cut so that the “size of government reflects the revenues that are coming in.” 

Davis is set to sign the budget on Thursday, more than two months after the state spending plan was to go into effect. The $98 billion budget uses a combination of borrowing, program cuts and taxes to cover a record $23.6 billion deficit. 

The Legislature passed the budget Sunday after a two-month standoff over proposed tax hikes. 

Davis said Tuesday that he plans to “veto some additional money,” but he has not said how much it will be or where it will come from. He was asked by the Legislature to cut $750 million from state agencies and departments rather than programs. 

“I won’t have the specifics of it until late tonight or early tomorrow morning, but the bottom line is, this year’s budget will be less than last year’s budget,” Davis said Wednesday. 

State lawmakers say they are already gearing up for future budget battles. Last week, Controller Kathleen Connell said that revenue for June, July and August were below expectations, meaning the $23.6 billion deficit could jump to $27 billion before the state’s fiscal year is over. Critics have said this year’s budget does nothing to solve the future budget shortfalls. 

“The budget did little to address declining revenues and nothing on a permanent basis,” said Jean Ross, executive director of the California Budget Project, a nonpartisan policy research group. 

Assembly GOP leader Dave Cox said he plans to ask Democrats to allow an equal number of Republicans on the conference committees the produce the budget proposals, which he says would make it easier to negotiate a budget early on. 

“Most Republicans believe they are involved in the process too late,” Cox said. “It’s a situation where we have to get started as early as possible.” 

As part of the budget agreement, the Legislature will also create a committee of lawmakers to study ways to improve the budget process.