California Legislators Approve a Budget And Brace For a Busy Summer

Last week state lawmakers in Sacramento approved a new $125 billion state budget. Members of both the State Assembly and the California Senate now contemplate a busy schedule filled with a variety of proposed measures awaiting debate and action. The current legislative session will draw to a close in three months.

Trimming Expenditures

According to Mercury News , although the $125 billion budget at first glance appears hefty, this figure does not represent a significant departure from budget trends of recent years. During the 2016 fiscal year, Governor Jerry Brown proposed $113.3 billion in expenditures from the state's general fund, for instance. California begins its fiscal year every July 1st. During fiscal 2015, estimated combined total federal and state spending in California amounted to $252.5 billion according to data reported on the Ballotpedia.org website.

California maintains an annual budget cycle. State agencies must submit budget requests to the Governor's Office by September in order to participate in internal agency hearings from September through November. The Governor then prepares a proposed budget for submission to lawmakers during January. Public budget hearings occur from March through June. Legislators adopt the final budget in June.

A Busy Remaining Three Months

This year, lawmakers passed few major bills. During April, they approved two measures raising vehicle registration fees and mandating new state gasoline taxes. Governor Brown signed both laws.

Some proposed measures pending possible further action by legislators during the final three months of this session include:

  • Funding low-cost housing by eliminating state tax breaks for second home mortgages and adding a $75 real estate closing document fee;
  • Expediting new home construction;
  • Extending the cap and trade legislation expiring in 2020;
  • Bail reform and juvenile justice legislation;
  • Prohibiting drivers license suspensions as penalties for failing to pay traffic fines;
  • Banning the use of arrest records for preliminary employment screening purposes;
  • Declaring California an official "sanctuary" state for illegal immigration purposes;
  • Preventing immigration officials from entering work sites without warrants;
  • Imposing penalties on companies which participate in federal programs to construct a border wall;
  • Mandating minimum staffing ratios at medical dialysis facilities;
  • Regulating pharmacy benefits managers;
  • Requiring advance notice by pharmaceutical firms concerning price increases.

Many items of proposed legislation await contentious debate. However, legislators will likely remain busy this summer!


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