Assembly budget secrecy ahead; 37 empty budget bills passed

May 14, 2013

By Katy Grimes

SACRAMENTO — Another secretive budget is in the near future as Democrats passed 37 empty budget “spot bills” Monday. It was business as usual in the Assembly.

Assemblyman Bob Blumenfield, D-Los Angeles, the author of AB 74, the budget bills, and Chairman of the Assembly Budget Committee, called the budget trailer bills, “budget vehicles.” Blumenfield said Republicans only began to care about the budget trailer bills after passage of Proposition 25, which ended the previous requirement of the state Legislature of two-thirds of the members had to vote in favor of passage of the state’s budget. The budget is now passed on a majority vote of the Legislature.

The empty budget trailer bills, called “spot bills,” usually sit on a shelf until the last minute they are needed, and usually on the day the budget is due, June 15. They are not vetted and don’t go through the usual public legislative committee process. Legislators are asked to vote on these bills, often having just seen them for the first time.

“The last two years we’ve passed the budget on time,” Blumenfield said. “It’s about results.”

Blumenfield said prior to passage of Prop. 25, Republicans used to “leverage” the budget. “They would insert awful things into the budget,” Blumenfield said.

Blumenfield may have felt confident about the 37 budget bills’ passage by the Assembly, but his budget committee co-chairman, Assemblyman Jeff Gorell, R-Camarillo, wasn’t so enthusiastic.

“The budget should be developed in each of the sub areas… then the Assembly passes the budget by itself,” Gorell said. “This undermines transparency, and empowers staff over legislators.”

“This erodes the public trust,” Gorell added. “Bring the budget out into the light so we can see what we will be asked to vote on. This will only promote a broken system.”

Gorell is right. The last two budgets which Blumenfield claims were passed on time  were largely done outside of the legislative committees using the trailer bills.

Assemblywoman Kristen Olsen, R-Modesto, also said she was in opposition to AB 74. “When we pass one bill or 37 wth no language in them, it’s quite opposite of transparency and why we keep receiving ‘D’ grades in transparency as a state.”

Olsen, is the author of Assembly Constitutional Amendment 4, a transparency bill which would require that proposed legislation be in print for 72 hours before a vote can be taken. This would allow lawmakers and the public to review and analyze bills before they are voted on.

But Democrats in the Assembly Budget Subcommittee No. 6, with Blumenfield as Chairman of the subcommittee, killed her important transparency bill before it was even heard. ACA 4 was sent to the suspense file by the committee before Olsen even had a chance to testify on her bill.

Olsen asked her Assembly colleagues to consider ACA 4 so they all had 72 hours to read the bills.

“Any publicly traded company caught not giving information to stockholders goes to prison,” said Assemblyman Mike Morell, R-Rancho Cucamonga. “Ours is the largest budget in the nation. A ‘no’ vote sends the message to our constituents we are watching out for them.”

The Assembly passed the 37 spot bills and AB 74 on a 51-24 vote.

3 comments

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  1. Bob Smith
    Bob Smith 14 May, 2013, 09:58

    What sort of “awful things” is Blumenfield talking about?

    Reply this comment
  2. Dyspeptic
    Dyspeptic 14 May, 2013, 10:29

    “This erodes the public trust,” Gorell added.

    Apparently Jeff Gorell is quite the comedian. In this ProgBot, sucker voter lunatic asylum public trust boils down to “If it has a ‘D’ next to it’s name on the ballot, vote for it, dead or alive”. A chimpanzee could get elected to the Kalifornia legislature if it got the endorsement of the teachers union. That might be an improvement over the current bunch of brain dead Corruptocrat hacks.

    Reply this comment
  3. Dyspeptic
    Dyspeptic 14 May, 2013, 10:42

    “What sort of “awful things” is Blumenfield talking about?”

    Yes, I wondered about that too. Probably what he is referring to is budget items not pre-approved by the “Progressive” special interests like Teachers Unions, SEIU, Sierra Club, Center For Biological Depravity, North American Man-Boy Love Assoc., PETA, Humane Society, Gay-Lesbian-Bisexual-Transgender-Sexual Mutilation Fetish Alliance, The Sado-Masochists Union, Prison Guards Union, Police & Firefighter Unions, The Union of Overweight Slobs and the Illegal Aliens Should Get To Vote advocates.

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