California Lawmakers Pass State Budget Bill

Both houses of the Legislature passed the main budget bill today, four days after Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative leaders reached a compromise on the state’s annual spending plan.

Lawmakers in both the Senate and Assembly were beginning to take up more than 20 trailer bills associated with the budget and were expected to return for final votes on Saturday.

The $96.3 billion budget includes a modified version of the Democratic governor’s proposal to shift more education money to poor and English-learning students, as well as commitments to spend money in the future on mental health services, college student aid and other programs.

The Senate approved the budget 28-10 along party lines. Democratic lawmakers hailed the plan for its reinvestment – however limited – in social programs cut during the recession.

“California’s back,” said Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara. “I think this budget is a reflection of that fact.”

The vote in the Assembly was 54-25.

Republican lawmakers, a super-minority all but irrelevant in budget talks this year, complained the budget failed to sufficiently address debt.

“We’re not addressing the bigger financial issues that challenge California,” said Sen. Ted Gaines, R-Rocklin.

The Republicans said they were shut out of budget talks and that the compromise was done without public vetting.

Assemblyman Bob Blumenfield, chairman of the Assembly Budget Committee, disagreed.

“All of us have a vote,” Blumenfield said. “No one was excluded from the meetings.”