Republicans Excluded From Governor’s And Legislators’ State Budget Negotiations

A group of Democrats from the Assembly, State Senate and Governor Gavin Newsom’s office are negotiating and engaging in horsetrading with regard to our next budget in private. There are no Republicans nor media allowed in the room where all of this is taking place.
In years where a budget has been formulated well before the start of the government’s July 1 to June 30 fiscal year, representatives from the state legislature, including lawmakers from both major parties, hash out the state’s annual spending plan during committee meetings and in private conferences in what logically fits the definition of a bipartisan give and take, though the party in the minority has historically given more and the party in the majority has taken more.
In those years when the July 1 deadline is approaching or has elapsed and a budget agreement has not been closed, the legislature passes what is referred to as a placeholder state budget, which is usually a clone of the previous year’s budget that allows the government continue to run. A placeholder budget is also a means of getting around the requirement in California that lawmakers not be paid if they fail to pass a budget by the annual deadline.

Given the Democrats’ supermajority in both houses of the state legislature, now that Sacramento has entered into the province of final budget negotiations, all political nicities have been dispensed with. Using bare-knuckle tactics, senior Democrats have employed the State Capitol’s police to bar the door to the negotiating room and only Democrats have been allowed in.
Inside are Governor Newsom’s representatives and foremost, representatives for Senate President Pro Tem Mike McGuire and Assembly Speaker Robert Rivas, as well as, on occasion Newsom, Rivas and McGuire themselves, along with Assemblyman Jesse Gabriel, the chairman of the Assembly Budget Committee and California Senate Budget Committee Chairman Scott Wiener and their staff members.
Efforts by a group of reporters, including Sentinel correspondent Steven Frank, to wheedle from the participants where those negotiations are leading produced no meaningful response.
The best information was a terse statement from Gabriel.
“There’s a shared set of priorities here,” Gabriel said. “It’s more about what are the most effective solutions, what are the programs and services that we think are the best way to go forward versus others.”
Newsom’s office and his Department of Finance declined to answer questions about the remaining differences with the legislature that still need to be worked out.
How close those parties are to a final deal is anybody’s guess. The discussions are taking place entirely out of public view and when the participants emerge, they rarely respond to questions from the public or the press and will only convey what they know privately to other members of the legislature.

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