By Len Feldman
Despite intense efforts by CTA, its Education Coalition partners, and school supporters, on the last day of the regular state legislative session, lawmakers were unable to secure the two-thirds vote needed to approve a pending California budget version that would have boosted school spending by more than $4 billion above Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's May budget proposal.
In a test in the Assembly, the Democrats' California Jobs Budget - AB 1609 (Blumenfield) - garnered 48 yes votes and 25 no votes. Under the state's arcane requirements, budgets must receive a two-thirds supermajority - 54 votes in the Assembly and 27 in the state Senate - in order to be approved.
The pro-education California Jobs Budget, which would have allocated about $52 billion to schools, received support from all Assembly Democratic legislators. It was opposed by all Assembly Republicans.
For their own part, the Assembly Republicans were able to
muster only 25 yes votes for the governor's May Revision budget version - contained in SB 873 (Hollingsworth) - which would provide schools with only $48.9 billion in Proposition 98 spending.
"Year after year, a small band of legislators has held the state budget hostage to their ill-advised opposition to raising new revenues and closing tax loopholes that benefit corporations and wealthy individuals," says CTA President David A. Sanchez. "This unconscionable situation is why we are supporting Proposition 25 - the On-Time Budget Act of 2010 - which will reduce the votes needed to pass a budget to a simple majority and penalize lawmakers if they miss the constitutional budget deadline."
As the Educator went to press, it remained unclear whether lawmakers would be able to reach a budget agreement. While the state constitution requires the Legislature to send the governor a spending plan by June 15, the document contains no penalties for legislators' failure to do so. The Legislature can be called back by the Assembly speaker and the Senate president pro tem to continue their work on the budget. If a new budget is not approved by Nov. 30, responsibility for creating and passing one would fall to the new Legislature and very possibly to the new governor.
Bills introduced in this legislative session must be voted out by Aug. 31 or they die for this year. The governor has until Sept. 30 to sign or veto bills passed by the Legislature on or before Sept. 1.