Republicans push overhaul of California budget process

This post has been updated and corrected. See below for details.

SACRAMENTO -- Republican lawmakers are trying to resurrect parts of a failed ballot measure in hopes of increasing transparency in the state budget process.

Most of the ideas in the Republican proposal come from Proposition 31, which was pushed by the nonpartisan organization California Forward and rejected by voters in November.

"Proposition 31 had too much in it and it offended too many people," Assemblyman Jeff Gorell (R-Camarillo) told reporters on Wednesday. "People didn't understand it and voted no."

Republicans, he said, want a slimmer version with what they hope are the most popular ideas.

That includes requiring budget bills to be available to the public for three days, giving the governor the power to cut spending when the Legislature fails to quickly address a fiscal emergency and institute a series of hearings every other year to scrutinize government programs.

There would also be restrictions on trailer bills, which are pieces of legislation tied to the budget that have tended to slide through the Legislature with less oversight. Democrats used a trailer bill to ensure Gov. Jerry Brown's tax-hike measure, Proposition 30, got top billing on the November ballot, a move later criticized by a state appeals court.

The goal of the Republicans' effort, Gorell said, is to improve a process that "has been unfair to Californians."

Because the proposal is a constitutional amendment, it needs to be approved by two-thirds of the members in both houses of the Legislature -- guaranteed to be an uphill climb because Republicans are a minority in the Assembly and the Senate.

If it passes, it would need to be approved by voters in November 2014.

This post has been updated at 4:21 p.m. on April 10 to reflect that the Republicans' proposal would need two-thirds approval in both houses of the Legislature. It also corrects the proposed schedule for oversight hearings. They would be every other year, not every year.


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