Sacramento, CA — In the face of a decided defeat by voters on Tuesday on the state budget initiatives, Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) and Assembly Speaker Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles) announced measures to help quicken the process to solve a looming $21 billion state budget deficit and head off a cash shortage for the state expected in July.

“The budget process will be completed quickly to help prevent a potential cash-flow shortage in July and to reassure the federal government and private investors that California is a safe investment,” Bass said. “This conference committee will be different than in the past. It will include more members’ points of view and it will be far more open to the public and transparent than in previous years.”

Measures to make the budget conference committee process move quickly and be more open include:
-The announcement that the budget conference committee will be made up of five legislators from both the Assembly and Senate instead of the usual three. Assemblymembers Noreen Evans (D-Santa Rosa), who will chair the Conference Committee, Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles), Bob Blumenfield (D-Woodland Hills) and Senators Denise Ducheny (D-San Diego), Bob Dutton (R-Rancho Cucamonga) Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach) and Mimi Walters (R-Laguna Hills) will sit on the committee. Assembly Republican appointments to the Conference Committee are still being finalized.
-Plans in both houses to quickly move a spot budget bill (SB 61) on Thursday morning (May 21) that will be used to establish a budget conference committee.
-Conference committee hearings on the governor’s May Revise proposal, unlike previous years. The conference committee will essentially be tasked with closing the $21 billion budget gap.
-May Revision hearings–directly in Conference Committee, rather than first being heard in subcommittee.
-Conference Committee reconciliation of differences in actions taken by the Senate and Assembly Budget Subcommittees in their hearings since the budget was enacted on February 18. There are not a lot of significant issues (given that the 2009-10 budget was already enacted). Most of the work and actions of the budget subcommittees in each house have been on proposals that were rejected in the February budget deal “without prejudice.”
-Public and televised budget conference committee meetings.
-Conference Committee public testimony, particularly on May Revise proposals, as well as other suggestions on how to close a $21 billion budget gap, unlike past years.

Budget conference committee focus on cash shortage issues. The committee schedule is as follows:
May 21 – Conference Committee will begin with overview of the budget from the Department of Finance and Legislative Analyst’s Office earlier than usual, and May Revision will be heard directly in Conference Committee, rather than first being heard in subcommittee.
May 22 – Hear from the State Controller and State Treasurer on the state’s cash issues.
May 25-28 – Conference committee will use its meetings to get public testimony. Each day will be a different subject (i.e., education, HHS, etc.), and the schedule will be published in the Daily File. This will give the public a chance to comment on the governor’s May Revise proposals, as well as suggestions for how the Legislature and Governor should close the $21 billion budget gap.
June 1 – Traditional Conference Committee action hearings begin to review the specific proposals of the Administration, and getting the LAO critique. Conferees will also consider the suggestions of citizens and groups who provided testimony during the public testimony days (week of May 26).

The goal is to have the conference committee finish its work by mid-June and put out proposals to the floor to amend the 2009-10 budget package, and to get those passed and in law prior to the start of the fiscal year (July 1).