404 - Not Found - The Sacramento Bee, Sacramento, California

404 Not Found

Our apologies....

We can't find the page you requested in this location.

The story may have moved or expired.

You may wish to:

From Susan Ferriss and Torey Van Oot

For state lawmakers, ringing in the New Year also means getting ready for what's shaping up to be another painful budget season.

They'll return to the Capitol Jan. 4 to tackle a deficit that is expected to swell to $6.3 billion by the end of the fiscal year.

Filling that hole -- and the $21 billion deficit projected for the next 18 months --tops Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg's list of priorities for the new year.

Steinberg said in an interview with The Bee that while further cuts and new revenues will be needed to close that gap, the first place to look for cost savings is in the prisons.

He called the prisons package passed by the Legislature this year a "major accomplishment," but said the courts still provided "another venue" for following through on some of the cost-saving proposals that could not garner enough support to win approval in the Assembly.

"I would prefer that the Legislature be the first path and the first course of action, but we saw what happened last year when the Senate and the Assembly made some changes, but not enough," he said.

Steinberg said Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's administration and judges are continuing to negotiate - and making headway - on how to solve prison overcrowding lawsuits.

He said it makes sense to him to continue to try to overhaul the corrections system to reserve prisons for those serving time for violent and more serious crimes while those with less serious convictions could do their time in other jail systems. Making cuts to rehabilitation programs "should be the last thing we should do," he said.

Speaking more broadly about his strategy for dealing with the deficit, Steinberg said he hopes to keep cuts "minimal" and cautioned against another year of sweeping cuts to schools and social programs.

"We'll take one bite at a time and look at the current fiscal year," he said, adding that "Even deeper cuts become counter to restoring the health of the economy."

Steinberg said the Legislature needs to look at eliminating ineffectual tax credits and closing tax loopholes. Steinberg also said he would like to revive some revenue proposals that fell flat last year.

One of those ideas, he said, is requiring 3 percent withholding on payments to independent contractors, a proposal blocked by the governor and GOP lawmakers. Steinberg said that plan could raise $1.9 billion in revenues.

"We can't avoid that option next year," he said.

Steinberg also said that he thinks the state must start to chip away at its bond debt, possibly by linking new revenue proposals to paying off the state's bond obligations.

"I am talking to you about an entirely different approach," for addressing debts, he said.

While he acknowledged that passing revenue increases is a difficult task, he said the pain average Californians have felt because of last year's cuts might make such proposals more palatable.

"Everything has to be compared to that," he said, asking whether an independent contractors' tax idea is so bad "compared to what we see on college campuses?"

Steinberg also voiced support for changing the way the Legislature conducts its business, including transitioning to a two-year budget and shifting the focus of legislative committees to review the impact of existing laws, as opposed to producing new bills.

"We need to do a better job of shining a light... on what works well and doesn't," he said.

Steinberg pointed to several other items on the Senate's agenda for the first weeks of the new year, including coming to a consensus on rival plans for ensuring California can compete for Race to the Top federal education dollars and considering the confirmation of Schwarzenegger's lieutenant governor nominee, Republican Sen. Abel Maldonado.

On Race to the Top, Steinberg said the Assembly and the Senate - and the governor - are moving closer to agreement on a bill they can all support. Some of the outstanding issues, he said, include agreeing to a cap on how many charter schools can be formed and how to deal with parents taking kids out of failing schools.

The Maldonado confirmation process presents a bit more of a pickle. Legislators in both houses have until late February -- 90 days after the nomination was announced -- to confirm or reject the governor's choice. If they do not act within that window, Maldonado automatically assumes the post.

Steinberg plans to schedule a confirmation hearing for Maldonado but said he's in no rush to take up the nomination. He said his first concern is rounding up the votes for budget solutions early in the year -- Maldonado in the past has broken ranks from the GOP on budget issues.

"I know we need Senator Maldonado on the Senate floor in late January and early February," he said.

With many factors influencing whether the votes are there to confirm Maldonado - several senators are already vying for the "guv lite" post in 2010 - but Democrats are hungry for a shot at picking up Maldonado's Senate seat in a special election -- Steinberg called the decision a "seven-dimensional game of chess."

But he said his mind -- and the minds of his colleagues -- were open to giving the nomination a fair and full consideration.

"I pride myself on giving a lot of thought to these decisions," he said.

About Comments

Reader comments on Sacbee.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Sacramento Bee. If you see an objectionable comment, click the "report abuse" button below it. We will delete comments containing inappropriate links, obscenities, hate speech, and personal attacks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. See more about comments here.

What You Should Know About Comments on Sacbee.com

Sacbee.com is happy to provide a forum for reader interaction, discussion, feedback and reaction to our stories. However, we reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments or ban users who can't play nice. (See our full terms of service here.)

Here are some rules of the road:

• Keep your comments civil. Don't insult one another or the subjects of our articles. If you think a comment violates our guidelines click the "report abuse" button to notify the moderators. Responding to the comment will only encourage bad behavior.

• Don't use profanities, vulgarities or hate speech. This is a general interest news site. Sometimes, there are children present. Don't say anything in a way you wouldn't want your own child to hear.

• Do not attack other users; focus your comments on issues, not individuals.

• Stay on topic. Only post comments relevant to the article at hand. If you want to discuss an issue with a specific user, click on his profile name and send him a direct message.

• Do not copy and paste outside material into the comment box.

• Don't repeat the same comment over and over. We heard you the first time.

• Do not use the commenting system for advertising. That's spam and it isn't allowed.

• Don't use all capital letters. That's akin to yelling and not appreciated by the audience.

You should also know that The Sacramento Bee does not screen comments before they are posted. You are more likely to see inappropriate comments before our staff does, so we ask that you click the "report abuse" button to submit those comments for moderator review. You also may notify us via email at feedback@sacbee.com. Note the headline on which the comment is made and tell us the profile name of the user who made the comment. Remember, comment moderation is subjective. You may find some material objectionable that we won't and vice versa.

If you submit a comment, the user name of your account will appear along with it. Users cannot remove their own comments once they have submitted them, but you may ask our staff to retract one of your comments by sending an email to feedback@sacbee.com. Again, make sure you note the headline on which the comment is made and tell us your profile name.

hide comments
blog comments powered by Disqus


FOLLOW US ON FACEBOOK

More Capitol Alert

Capitol Alert on Twitter

[an error occurred while processing this directive]

Popular Categories

Now on sacbee.com/politics

    [an error occurred while processing this directive]

The State Worker Blog

Latest posts:
    404 - Not Found - The Sacramento Bee, Sacramento, California

    404 Not Found

    Our apologies....

    We can't find the page you requested in this location.

    The story may have moved or expired.

    You may wish to:

Categories


May 2013

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
      1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28 29 30 31  

Monthly Archives


Latest California Clips

[an error occurred while processing this directive]