Government Finance and Operations 05/27/2011
Senate Appropriations Suspense File
This week marks the deadline for bills that cost money to pass
out of the Appropriations Committee of their house of origin.
Putting bills that cost more than just a few dollars in a
Suspense File gives the committee an opportunity to consider all
of them at once and ensures they know exactly how much cost they
are approving. Because the Suspense File hearings include no
testimony or policy discussion, it also provides a chance to kill
bills without too many questions.
The Senate Appropriations Committee held their Suspense File hearing yesterday, and the results relevant to this policy area are below. The amendments for bills that passed “as amended” are not yet available. The Assembly Appropriations Committee is holding their hearing today (Friday), and we will report the results in this space next week.
SB 3 (Padilla) – Support
As Amended on April 12, 2011
SB 3, by Senator Alex Padilla, would extend by one year, to 2014, authority for the CPUC to use the California High-Cost Fund-B to support telephone and broadband services in high-cost service areas, primarily rural. It would also explicitly require contributions to the fund from users of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP).
The high-cost funds, A and B, subsidize the cost of providing telecommunication services to rural and hard-to-reach parts of the state. Surcharges on all telephone bills fund these programs and help ensure that access to telecommunication is universal.
SB 3 did make it off the Suspense File, as amended.
SB 106 (Blakeslee) – Support
As Amended on March 9, 2011
SB 106, by Senator Sam Blakeslee, would have changed statute to say that the state shall pay the costs of legislative vacancy special elections.
A statute to this effect was in effect for many years up through the end of 2008. Since the beginning of 2009, counties have spent at least $20 million to fill eleven vacancies, and more vacancies will need to be filled later this year. SB 106 would cover elections held between January 1, 2009, and April 19, 2011.
SB 106 did not make it off the Suspense File.
SB 141 (Price) – Support
As Amended on March 17, 2011
SB 141, by Senator Curren Price, is exactly like SB 106, above, except that it does not specify a reimbursement period from January 1, 2009, to April 19, 2011.
SB 141 did not make it off the Suspense File.
SB 186 (Kehoe) – Neutral
As Amended on April 6, 2011
SB 186, by Senator Christine Kehoe, would give the State Controller broad authority to audit local agencies when he has a documented reason to believe that the local agency is not complying with the financial requirements in state law, grant agreements, local charters, or local ordinances.
SB 186 did make it off the Suspense File, as amended.
SB 223 (Leno) – Support
As Introduced on February 9, 2011
SB 223, by Senator Mark Leno, would authorize each county to place a measure before voters to impose an assessment on vehicles owned by that county’s residents. SB 223 would allow communities that are willing to pay more money for local services to do so, without requiring the same of residents in other areas. SB 223 goes beyond the current constitutional vote requirements by requiring a 2/3 vote of the Board of Supervisors to place such a measure before voters.
SB 223 did make it off the Suspense File.
SB 449 (Pavley) – Pending
As Amended on May 19, 2011
SB 449, by Senator Fran Pavley, would authorize the State Controller to conduct a preliminary review to determine the existence of a local agency financial problem upon learning of certain serious conditions such as inability to meet payroll for thirty days, default on bond payments, or failure to distribute tax revenues. It would also authorize the Controller to audit local agencies upon determining that a serious financial problem exists. It would require the Controller to convene a local agency financial review committee to recommend a financial recovery plan for local agencies that request assistance.
SB 449 did make it off the Suspense File.
SB 653 (Steinberg) – Support
As Amended on April 27, 2011
SB 653, by Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, would grants counties new taxing authority within limits set by the Constitution. SB 653 would allow communities that are willing to pay more money for local services to do so, and do so with a revenue source that is appropriate for those communities, without forcing the same of residents in other areas. This is true local control, which counties support.
Specifically, SB 653 would allow counties and school districts to impose the following taxes: personal income, transactions and use, vehicle license fees, oil severance, and excise taxes on products such as cigarettes, alcohol, and sweetened drinks.
SB 653 did make it off the Suspense File, as amended.
SCA 4 (DeSaulnier) – Support
As Introduced on December 6, 2011
SCA 4, by Senator Mark DeSaulnier, would amend the Constitution to require future initiatives to cover the costs they impose on the state and local governments through increased revenue or decreased costs elsewhere.
California’s is the world’s most inflexible initiative system, and it has contributed to the current fiscal crises at the state and local levels by imposing unchangeable spending requirements on general funds. SCA 4 would prevent future initiatives from going before voters unless they provided sufficient revenue to cover any net cost increases. Initiative proponents can meet this requirement in either of two ways: by providing sufficient revenue within the measure to pay for new costs or by decreasing other costs.
SCA 4 allows voters to continue making important policy decisions about the state they live in, but requires them to do it in a fiscally responsible way.
SCA 4 did make it off the Suspense File.
Policy Committee Meeting Next Week
The Government Finance and Operations policy committee will meet
next week during CSAC’s Legislative Conference. The committee
will hear an update on the budget and economy from
representatives of the Legislative Analyst’s Office, and will
discuss pension reform, legislative budget reform efforts, and
bills spawned by the Bell scandal.
The committee’s agenda packet is available here.