Budget watchers have had a busy week at the state and federal level, with major action, staffing changes, and the final budget proposal of the Schwarzenegger administration. Highlights of the week include:
- The Unemployment Insurance-Tax Cut Deal. President Obama and Republican lawmakers announced an accord to provide 13 more months of emergency Unemployment Insurance benefits and extend the Bush tax cuts, including those for the highest-income Americans. Our colleagues at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities have cogently laid out the upsides of the package for the economy and low- and middle-income families, as well as some of its very serious downsides. They urge Congress to approve the deal, with a caveat: “In 2012, when the economy should be stronger, the President should make clear he will veto any legislation to extend either the high-end tax cuts or the weakening of the estate tax beyond the estate-tax parameters that were in place in 2009, and he should take that case to the country.”
- A sobering budget forum. Yesterday, Governor-elect Jerry Brown hosted a forum to outline the very serious budget challenges facing the state. If you missed it, you can watch it on the California Channel. While the forum wasn’t designed to present solutions, it sought to ground a very difficult discussion in facts. As we’ve always said at the CBP, facts matter.
- The appointment of a new budget committee chair. Senate Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg named Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) Chair of the Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee, replacing termed out Senator Denise Moreno Ducheny. Other members of the committee include Senator Elaine Alquist, Senator Mark DeSaulnier, Senator Bob Dutton, Senator Bill Emmerson, Senator Noreen Evans, Senator Jean Fuller, Senator Tom Harman, Senator Carol Liu, Senator Alan Lowenthal, Senator Gloria Negrete-McLeod, Senator Alex Padilla, Senator Michael Rubio, Senator Joe Simitian, and Senator Rod Wright.
- Schwarzenegger’s budget swan song. On Monday, Governor Schwarzenegger convened the Legislature in special session and released a set of proposals aimed at addressing the widening budget gap. Largely a rehash of previous proposals, the proposal appears dead on arrival according to press reports. You can read the Legislative Analyst’s Office analysis of the proposal here.
— Lisa Gardiner