Budget Heat Builds to Civil Unrest at Capitol

CHP arrests 10 demonstrators outside Gov. Jerry Brown's office earlier this week

[UGCHAR-CJ]Fall Photo
Joey Sciarra

It's getting hot in Sacramento, which means short tempers and long debates on the state budget.

It's a ritual of the annual budget fight, as was Tuesday's outbreak of civil disobedience. The CHP arrested 10 protesters, one in a wheelchair, after the group clogged the main hallway outside Gov. Jerry Brown's office and linked arms.

As with most such events, there was nothing spontaneous about it.

The protest, organized by Service Employees International Union, was staged to draw attention to proposed cuts in state spending on in-home care for the elderly and disabled. Union workers would find their jobs at risk if the cuts go through.

Hundreds of workers jammed the hallway, chanting and creating a chaotic scene before the arrests were carried out.

Meantime, Republicans expressed displeasure with a budget scenario in which they are playing only a spectator role.

"This whole process is a mess," complained Sen. Bill Emmerson, R-Redlands, during a hastily convened meeting of the Senate Budget Committee.

The process is "open and transparent," countered Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco.

That kind of jabbing is also part of the ritual -- what former-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger liked to call the "kabuki dance" of the budget.

Democrats, mindful of new rules that require lawmakers to forfeit pay if the budget is late, approved a plan Friday to balance California's $15.7 billion deficit -- thus keeping the paychecks flowing, even if Brown vetoes the plan as he did last year.

Related: Democratic Lawmakers Pass Their Own Version of the State Budget

It's uncertain whether Brown will do that, or simply use his line-item veto powers to cut spending from the plan he receives.

Author Kevin Riggs, an Emmy-winning former TV reporter in Sacramento, is Senior Vice President at Randle Communications.

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