State Senate OKs a Budget It Knows Must Be Cut Back : Spending Plan Is $900 Million Over Governor’s
The Senate, after squabbling over the abortion issue and the state Commission on the Status of Women, gave qualified approval Friday to a $35.4-billion version of Gov. George Deukmejian’s 1985-86 budget.
The proposed budget for the fiscal year that begins on July 1 passed on a bipartisan 36-3 vote amid warnings by members of both parties that it must be reduced substantially to avoid gubernatorial vetoes.
Senators will have a second chance to vote on the budget when a negotiated version is returned to them by a six-member Senate-Assembly conference committee. Work by the committee will begin after the two houses go through the formality of rejecting each other’s budgets next week.
The Senate-approved document, in addition to being $900 million above the spending level proposed by Deukmejian, contains a reserve fund of only $380 million. Deukmejian wants a $1-billion reserve as insurance against a downturn in the economy or emergency expenditures and has said his position is non-negotiable.
“There are going to have to be cuts made in this budget,” said Senate Republican Leader James W. Nielsen of Woodland, just before urging other Republicans to vote for the spending plan to get it into conference committee.
Sen. John Seymour (R-Anaheim), who is expected to be one of the three senators named to the conference committee, said: “If we don’t do the job, we have a governor with a very sharp blue pencil who is just waiting to do the job.”
Where the cuts will come remains to be seen.
The Democrats’ chief budget negotiator, Sen. Alfred E. Alquist of San Jose, who will chair the conference committee, told newsmen that “it’s going to be very difficult” to cut beyond $100 million to $200 million because differences between Senate and Assembly budgets are not great enough and lawmakers will be resisting any reductions.
Deukmejian--if lawmakers are unable to make the necessary trims--has threatened to veto as much spending as is needed to restore the $1-billion reserve.
Sen. Edward R. Royce (R-Anaheim) joined two other Republicans in casting the no votes against the budget.
‘Too Much Spending’
“The Senate’s version of the budget contains too much spending and too high a rate of increase in the growth of government spending. The Senate is proposing to spend $3.3 billion more in general fund monies than last year. That is a 12.9% increase . . . . It is three times the rate of inflation,” he said.
Before the main budget vote, Republican and Democratic senators offered fiscally inconsequential but highly emotional amendments.
Sen. H. L. Richardson (R-Glendora) won 20-13 approval for an amendment that would prohibit the state Office of Family Planning from issuing grants to agencies that use funds to advertise or advocate abortion.
Sen. Becky Morgan (R-Los Altos Hills) reacted to Seymour’s observation that the budget bill was less than perfect. “In my mind, it is even a little less perfect as a result of the amendment added this morning,” she said.
Alquist predicted the conference committee would kill the Richardson amendment, which is not contained in the Assembly version of the budget.
Sen. Diane Watson (D-Los Angeles) pushed an amendment, which failed, that would have matched an Assembly-proposed cut of $471,000 in the budget of the Commission on the Status of Women.
She and another Democratic lawmaker, Assemblywoman Maxine Waters of Los Angeles, who proposed the original cut, are angry over the increasingly conservative policies of the commission that have developed since Deukmejian began making appointments to the 17-member body.
They are especially critical of the executive director of the commission, Margaret Almada, a Republican, although she is not one of the governor’s appointees. The budget cut would abolish her job along with the jobs of most of her staff.
Watson claimed the commission has become ineffective in espousing women’s issues.
Both Republican and Democratic legislators claimed her motives are purely political, triggered by a growing Republican influence on the commission.
COMPARING THE BUDGETS
Both the Senate and Assembly budgets are versions of the $33.6-billion spending plan submitted by Gov. George Deukmejian in January. Since then, Deukmejian has proposed an additional $1 billion in expenditures. Deukmejian also wants a $1-billion reserve, which he says is non-negotiable. Agreement essentially has been reached on aid increases for school districts, welfare recipients and major Medi-Cal providers. Here are key differences confronting negotiators on the conference committee:
SENATE TOTAL EXPENDITURES: $35.4 billion, including all funds.
RESERVE: Contains a $380-million reserve.
COMPARISON TO GOVERNOR’S BUDGET $900 million over Deukmejian’s request
COMMUNITY COLLEGES Appropriates $72.2 million more than governor put in his budget.
MEDICALLY INDIGENT Adds $97.7 million to fund county programs for medically indigent.
COMPARABLE WORTH Earmarks $8.7 million to close the male-female pay gap in state the college system; $47.9 million for other state employees.
AGRICULTURAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD
AND COMMISSION ON THE STATUS OF WOMEN Full funding for both.
STATE EMPLOYEES Boosts employee pay increase to 8.5%, or 2% above amount recommended by Deukmejian; adds 1,064 positions.
ASSEMBLY TOTAL EXPENDITURES: $35.1 billion.
RESERVE: Contains a $900-million reserve
COMPARISON TO GOVERNOR’S BUDGET $641 million over Deukmejian’s request.
COMMUNITY COLLEGES Increases spending on two-year colleges by $99.5 million.
MEDICALLY INDIGENT Adds $70 million.
COMPARABLE WORTH No special appropriation.
AGRICULTURAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD
AND COMMISSION ON THE STATUS OF WOMEN Eliminates the $4.2-million budget for ALRB general counsel; trims all but two full-time positions from commission’s budget.
STATE EMPLOYEES Raises pay 1%, to 7.5%; adds 1,205 positions.