California broke a record this morning, but hopefully won’t continue the tradition. Friday marks the 100th day without a budget, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. Early Friday morning, the Assembly passed the budget proposed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger; the budget now goes to the Senate for a vote today.
Assemblyman Cameron Smyth released the following statement after the Assembly passed a budget early Friday morning:
“It’s difficult to be proud of a budget that was delivered 100 days late. However, the budget that we passed this morning represents an important step in getting California back on solid fiscal ground. We closed a $19 billion deficit without resorting to tax increases, and we were able to maintain K-14 education funding, prevent early release of inmates, and preserve a safety net for those in our communities who rely most on social services. Additionally, we passed budget and pension reforms that are critical if we want to avoid situations like this in the future.”
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“Preserving education funding was one of my top priorities in this budget, and I am pleased that we were able to maintain K-14 education funding at last year’s level. In fact, when you account for declining enrollment, the budget contains a modest increase in per-pupil spending for 2010-11. It is still important that these funds be utilized efficiently at the district level to ensure that more dollars are reaching the classroom, but we were able to avoid some of the drastic cuts that had been proposed to the education budget.”
“Perhaps the most important long-term aspects of this package are the budget and pension reforms that we achieved. In November 2012, voters will have the opportunity to approve a ballot measure that strengthens the state’s fiscal reserve by increasing its maximum size, restricting the situations in which it can be tapped, and directing unanticipated revenue to the rainy day fund. Through negotiations with the Governor and union leaders, we were also able to roll back pension formulas for new state employees, which will reduce future liabilities for California taxpayers.”
“As with any budget, not everything is positive. There are aspects of the budget that I’m very concerned about. For example, there is an assumption that California will be able to draw down over $5 billion in federal funds to close more than a quarter of our deficit. While I believe we should be demanding our fair share from Washington, I have a hard time relying on federal funding assumptions that are not guaranteed – especially when those funds account for such a large part of the budget.”
“I’m obviously disappointed that we’re passing the budget in October. We should have been able to get to this point in June. Notwithstanding the timing, I believe this is a budget that is good for California in the long run. We protected taxpayers, sustained education funding, and implemented reforms to save for the future.”