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It’s Crunch Time For Representation In California Legislature

Published on Tuesday, April 2, 2024 | 5:56 am
 

California’s Legislature returns today from a weeklong break with lots to do and not a ton of time.

As lawmakers decide the fate of hundreds of bills and how to spend billions in taxpayer money, their ability to prioritize the needs and desires of voters will matter greatly in the next few months. CalMatters Capitol reporter Sameea Kamal has been writing a series of stories on how successful lawmakers are (or not) when it comes to doing what their constituents want. Catch up with those stories here.

At the top of the Legislature’s to-do list:

Budget: With estimates ranging from $38 billion to $73 billion, the state budget deficit is top-of-mind for the Legislature. In March, Senate Democrats announced early budgetary action to reduce the shortfall by about $17 billion, while also agreeing with Newsom’s January budget proposal to use $12.2 billion of the state’s rainy day fund. According to Senate leaders, the plan would shrink the budget down to a “more manageable” $9 to $24 billion.

Gov. Gavin Newsom and the two elected leaders in the Legislature — Senate President Pro Tem Mike McGuire and Assembly Speaker Robert Rivas — also announced in March that they agreed to seek $12 billion to $18 billion in initial savings ahead of passing the full state budget in June, but with scant details. All three are Democrats.

The Assembly hasn’t signed off on the Senate’s so-called early action plan yet, and are expected to unveil their own early budget package this month. The governor also plans to revise his budget proposal in May with updated tax revenue data from April. Those numbers will clarify the state’s fiscal condition and greatly shape the negotiations in Sacramento to finalize a state spending plan before the new budget year begins July 1.

Bill deadlines: Legislative policy committees have until April 26 to consider fiscal bills that were introduced in the same house. Afterwards, the Assembly and Senate have until May 24 to pass bills that originated from their respective houses. But until then, lawmakers are still unveiling new measures, including:

  • Recovering stolen art: In response to a federal appeals court ruling that has allowed a Spanish museum to keep a painting stolen by the Nazis from a Jewish family, Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel, a Democrat from Encino and California Legislative Jewish Caucus co-chairperson, introduced Assembly Bill 2867 to help Californians recover art and other personal goods that were looted during the Holocaust or other acts of genocide.
  • Sexual harassment: Assemblymember Mike Fong, a Monterey Park Democrat and chairperson of the Assembly Higher Education Committee, is expected to join other Democratic Assemblymembers at the state Capitol today to promote a series of bills addressing sexual discrimination and harassment at California colleges. The bill package is based on a three-year study that included input from experts, students, faculty and staff from the University of California, California State University and California Community Colleges.

State of the State: And there’s still no update on when Gov. Newsom will hold his annual State of the State address. The governor was expected to give the speech on March 18, but a few days beforehand his office said he would postpone the event and work with the Legislature to set a new date. At the time of the announcement, the fate of Newsom’s election priority, Proposition 1, was still undecided due to an incredibly tight vote. But the mental health ballot measure has since passed.

CalMatters.org is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media venture explaining California policies and politics.

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