Republicans and Democrats in the state Assembly voted together on three budget revisions aimed at preventing the state from overdrawing its bank accounts, but the bipartisanship didn't last and Republicans in the Senate knocked the bills down.
Assembly Republicans said they voted for the bills because they were a necessary first step in closing the state's budget gap. Senate Republicans, echoing Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, said they want to fix the budget in one fell swoop.
"I don't really care what they did over in the other house," Sen. Bob Dutton, R-Rancho Cucamonga, said the Senate floor before Thursday's vote. "This doesn't get it done."
Without support from the Senate Republicans for Thursday's measures, the legislature has just five days to close the state's $24.3 billion budget gap before the state controller's office begins paying the state's bills with IOUs.
"We're throwing the state of California a life preserver and (Senate Republicans) are saying, 'I want something that's better than that,"' said Sen. Gloria Negrete McLeod, D-Montclair. "I really can't fathom what they're thinking."
The three bills required two-thirds votes in both houses of the legislature. The Assembly passed them with nearly unanimous support - the votes were 68-0, 73-2 and 58-3, with some members not voting on various measures - but the Senate versions fell short, getting 24, 23 and 21 votes. The bills would have needed 27 votes for approval in the 40-member Senate.
The bills, which made cuts to the current fiscal year's budget and moved about $3 billion in savings into the 2009-10 fiscal year, cut funding for schools and allowed the state to transfer $350 million from local redevelopment agencies to local schools.
That savings would have let State Controller John Chiang continue paying the state's bills with cash - instead of issuing IOUs - for another two months, said Assemblywoman Norma J. Torres, D-Ontario.
"All it allows is more time for us to continue to work on solving the real problems here," she said. "We have to be able to stay afloat to continue."
Local Republican lawmakers said they understood where their Senate counterparts were coming from, but still felt approving Thursday's bills were a good step.
"This was important - we have to do these by June 30 or we can't do them," said Assemblyman Curt Hagman, R-Diamond Bar, who voted for two of the measures and abstained on the third. "We felt that to divide the two fiscal years would be the easiest thing to do. ... But I have sympathy for the Senate as well."
Paul Cook, who also voted for two measures and abstained on the third, said he doesn't think the Senate Republicans' goal of a one-shot fix is feasible, especially with just less than a week until the beginning of the new fiscal year.