California lawmakers plan more budget votes for Saturday

SACRAMENTO -- California lawmakers ended their work on the budget Friday afternoon, planning to reconvene again in the Capitol on Saturday morning to finish a series of related bills.

The bulk of the spending plan has been approved by the Legislature and is now ready for Gov. Jerry Brown's signature.

Besides $96.3 billion in general-fund spending, the budget includes $42 billion from dedicated accounts, $7 billion from bond funds and $87.6 billion in federal money. Almost $1.1 billion was left in reserve.

More bills, however, are still on the table, including some detailing how the state will expand healthcare coverage under President Obama's overhaul.

Lawmakers made some last-minute changes to Brown's budget, including rejecting a new $10 fee for accessing records.

Open-government advocates said the fee would have made it tougher for the public and the news media to review public documents.

"The court fees would have crippled many if not most news organizations' coverage of crime in any detail or business disputes," said Terry Francke, general counsel for Californians Aware.

However, the Legislature approved a bill that would weaken the state's public records laws. Some mandates -- including the requirement to respond to requests within 10 days or provide records electronically -- are slated to become voluntary.


"It means that the requirements for effective compliance with the [Public Records Act] have been gutted," Francke said.

Administration officials said the change could help save the state tens of millions of dollars.



Twitter: @chrismegerian