As the California legislature gears up to vote on the state budget, Republicans are demanding greater transparency in the process, citing a C- grade for the budgeting process from the State Integrity Investigation. California ranked 4th out of all 50 states overall with a grade of B-.
On Monday, Republicans called for a 48-hour public review of the budget plan, allowing time for citizens to voice their concerns to representatives before it goes to a vote. Lawmakers face a constitutional deadline to approve a budget for the new fiscal year by this Friday; the fiscal year kicks off July 1. California Democrats control both legislative chambers, as well as the governor’s office.
“While Democrats talk about openness and accountability, all we have seen from them are smoke-filled rooms and back-room deals, shutting out taxpayers and the news media,” Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff (R-Diamond Bar) and Assembly Republican Leader Connie Conway (R-Tulare) stated in a press release. “Budgets thrown together behind closed doors or passed in the middle of the night are one of the main reasons why California is facing chronic deficits today.”
Sabrina Lockhart, communications director for Assembly Leader Conway, said that California’s grades on the State Integrity Investigation “bolstered our opinion that more transparency is needed,” but she also noted that Republicans have sought open government legislation for years.
Among their proposals: Bills to increase legislative transparency, eliminate late-night legislative sessions and promote an open and honest budget process.
On its corruption risk scorecard, California earned only a 31 percent for the question, “Can citizens access the state budgetary process?” One source referred to the public hearings as “a kabuki theater,” with the major decisions being made by legislative leaders behind closed doors.
John Vigna, press secretary for Assembly Speaker John Perez (D-Los Angeles), noted that the Legislature has held more than 75 hearings on the budget, including a meeting this week to review the proposed budget in its entirety. “The Speaker is committed to approving a balanced, on-time budget by our June 15 constitutional deadline, and we continue to work towards that goal,” Vigna said in a statement.