Rethinking Budget Trigger Unlikely, Says Speaker
Assembly Speaker John Perez isn’t ruling it out — never say never, one supposes — but nonetheless says that talk of the Legislature stopping, or even just rejiggering, the budget’s automatic spending cuts isn’t likely to go anywhere.
“I don’t know of another approach that has greater support than the triggers that we already voted on,” said Perez in comments to reporters after today’s long and contentious meeting of the regents of the University of California.
The exact depth of the so-called “trigger” cuts won’t be known for another two weeks, when Governor Jerry Brown’s budget team releases its state economic and revenue forecast. You’ll remember that the budget Brown signed into law in late June contained language that identified almost $2.5 billion in new spending cuts if revenue predictions dropped by more than $2 billion.
The prediction of the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office — which, along with the governor’s team, makes the assessment — is that revenues will miss the mark by $3.7 billion, thus triggering most of the identified cuts. That would include an additional $100 million in cuts to both the UC and CSU systems, plus deep cuts in health and human services and a whopping $1.4 billion in cuts to K-12 schools and community colleges.
All of this has led several Democratic legislators, as well as advocates for those programs affected, to call for new legislative action to avoid the trigger from being pulled.
But Speaker Perez seemed today to all but say no to the idea, if for no other reasons than the impossibility of what he sees as the only viable alternative.
“The only way to avoid those triggers is to get revenue,” said Perez. “And that’s not going to happen, because none of the members of the minority party have shown a willingness to engage in that kind of conversation.”
Perez went on to say that there’s no reason to hurriedly convene legislative activity in December if there’s no proposal that actually has a chance of passing. And he used the failure of the congressional “supercommittee” in Washington, D.C. as an example of what he doesn’t want to do.
Of course, the Assembly leader’s comments are unlikely to dissuade some from pushing for a second look at the trigger cuts, once the actual list is generated on December 15.