Brown’s budget veto prompts Senate showdown over his appointees

Gov. Jerry Brown’s unprecedented veto of the state budget prompted retaliation from the Senate leader, a fellow Democrat, to halt confirmations of the governor’s appointees before the Senate Rules Committee.

The action immediately affects David Maxwell-Jolly, Brown’s appointment as deputy director of Health and Human Services, and three members of the Board of Parole Hearings — Arthur Lee Anderson, Robert Glen Doyle and Jeffrey Ferguson. All four have been approved by Senate Rules and awaiting confirmation by the full Senate.

Brown, who historically has had a rocky relationship with the Legislature, said he was forced to veto the budget because it was unbalanced, legally suspect and relied on an array of fiscal maneuvers to raise money, including borrowings, delayed payments and fees to cover a $9.6 billion shortage.

But the budget was pushed through the Legislature by Democrats on simple-majority votes — Democrats who earlier had accepted Brown’s demand that they make deep cuts in state spending. Brown’s veto drew anger from Democratic leaders. Republicans, meanwhile, opposed the document en masse.

Senate Leader Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, ordered the Senate to halt confirmations — a move that leaves dozens of appointments in limbo. The administration did not immediately say how many appointees would be affected.

“Obviously, after what happened on the budget, we need to get back and fully focus on that issue,” said Senate .spokesman Mark Hedlund. “On confirmations that could be affected, it’s a question of which ones are getting close to their drop-off dates. Once somebody is appointed, they have a year window to be confirmed. At any one time, there are probably dozens waiting. It’s always that way.” 

Some 27 appointees of the governor whose drop-off dates fall before the end of August are awaiting confirmation hearings before the Senate Rules Committee, Hedlund noted.

After his veto, Brown again Republicans to drop their opposition to allowing the public to vote on taxes.

The governor said the budget that was approved this week was “not a balanced solution. It continues big deficits for years to come and adds billions of dollars of new debt. It also contains legally questionable maneuvers, costly borrowing and unrealistic savings. Finally, it is not financeable and therefore will not allow us to meet our obligations as they occur.”

Democrats earlier said the budget they approved was a good proposal, putting them at odds with a governor of their own party. The governor said Democrats had made “valiant efforts” earlier to approve deep cuts in the budget to curb spending.

Before the vote, the governor had 12 days to act on the proposal. California’s new fiscal year begins July 1.

Brown said the budget failed to contain the revenue that he demanded from tax extensions, and absent those funds he would be forced to require deep cuts in education and correctional programs.

“We can – and must – do better,” Brown said. “A balanced budget is critical to our economic recovery. I am, once again, calling on Republicans to allow the people of California to vote on tax extensions for a balanced budget and significant reforms.”

“If they continue to obstruct a vote, we will be forced to pursue deeper and more destructive cuts to schools and public safety– a tragedy for which Republicans will bear full responsibility,” Brown added.

Senate GOP Leader Bob Dutton said Brown’s veto “acknowledges the irresponsible budget the Democrats passed yesterday, but the veto doesn’t go far enough.  The governor needs to veto the entire budget package. The truth is Governor Brown and the Democrats blocked the people’s right to vote because they can’t stand up to the powerful public employee unions.”

Ed’s Note: Updates with names of stalled appointees on Senate floor, 2nd graf; and number of appointees awaiting Rules Committee hearings by end of August, 7th graf.

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