California lawmakers approve some budget plan bills

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 22, 2011 12:22 PM
California lawmakers approve some budget plan bills

SACRAMENTO (Reuters) - California lawmakers on Wednesday approved eight of 20 bills making up Governor Jerry Brown's state budget plan but did not take up its cornerstone, legislation asking voters to extend tax increases.

Brown, a Democrat, needs a handful of Republican lawmakers to support his plan for a ballot measure for a special election in June that would ask voters to extend tax increases that expire this year.

Revenue from the extensions would be paired with some $12 billion in spending cuts to help fill a state budget gap that may near $27 billion through mid-2012 and to bolster the state's finances in future years.

Democrats who control the legislature support a tax measure but Republicans oppose it, though some have been in talks with Brown on other matters that many observers in the state capital of Sacramento believe may help him win the votes he needs.

Lawmakers approved bills imposing spending cuts on health and welfare programs, shifting funds between state accounts and other moves to help close the state's budget gap.

California has the largest budget shortfall of any state at a time when weak state finances are a concern for lawmakers in Washington.

Sessions in the state Assembly and Senate were scheduled to resume on Thursday, when lawmakers will take up more of the budget legislation, likely including the sole bill to stall on Wednesday.

That bill proposes putting an estimated $1.7 billion into the state's coffers by scrapping local redevelopment agencies. It did not have enough votes to clear the Assembly so the Senate did not take it up.

(Reporting by Jim Christie)