The California legislature today set a new state record -- 22 days -- for the longest delay in passing a budget, and Speaker Willie Brown (D) said that starting Monday, when the Assembly convenes, a different budget will be presented every day until the $3.6 billion revenue gap is closed.
Brown declared a recess Thursday, and on Friday the California legislature broke the 1983 record for the longest delay in passing a budget. Several courts have ordered the state to continue payments for Medi-Cal, welfare and health-care services, amounting to more than $1 billion in a state whose budget expired last month. The new fiscal year began July 1.
State Controller Gray Davis (D) said he would withhold paychecks for legislators and other state officeholders, including the governor, but if courts continue to order him to make other payments, California will be out of money by Friday.
Assembly Republicans last week rejected a $55.4 billion budget drafted by Democrats. Passage requires a two-thirds majority, which neither Republicans nor Democrats can deliver by themselves.
Davis contends the problem lies with Gov. George Deukmejian (R), who has insisted on reducing the money schools receive under Proposition 98 and is unwilling to consider raising revenue.
Deukmejian has proposed $3.6 billion in budget cuts by suspending the state Constitution and cutting $800 million of funds assured by Prop 98, which guarantees a portion of the state budget to education.
"The Democrats are absolutely committed to keeping faith with the will of the electorate," Davis said. Deukmejian and other Republicans want spending cuts. Democrats have said they do not want social and school programs to suffer and have suggested a combination of spending cuts and revenue increases. "There is no answer in sight," Davis said.
"Real people are getting hurt," said Davis, because state funds remain frozen while the legislature struggles to pass a budget. A lawsuit by 7,650 state employees is to be decided this week, and about 200,000 state workers are expected to file another suit. Local governments that have not received apportionments also are expected to sue, Davis said.