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High-Stakes Deal-Making Continues Behind the Scenes on CA Budget and Ballot
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By CalMatters
Published 1 month ago on
June 19, 2024

Assemblymembers debate a bill on the Assembly floor at the state Capitol in Sacramento on June 13, 2024. (CalMatters/Cristian Gonzalez)

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It’s possible that the final big deals on both the state budget and November ballot measures could be hammered out on the same day next week, or in the days leading up to it.

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Lynn La

CalMatters

Thursday, June 27 is the deadline for the Legislature to put measures on the Nov. 5 ballot or pull them off in agreements with proponents.

That day is also the final day for Gov. Gavin Newsom to sign or veto the budget the Legislature passed last week — though realistically, he will likely come up with a compromise with legislative leaders before the new fiscal year starts July 1.And the budget and ballot measures are intertwined: It’s possible, for instance, that cuts in climate programs proposed by Newsom and opposed by the Legislature could be made up in money in a climate bond issue in November.

The deal-making is largely being done behind closed doors. But the public and the press could get a peek by Monday: Bills have to be in print 72 hours before they’re approved.

One deal to pull a ballot measure was made public Tuesday: CalMatters Capitol reporter Jeanne Kuang writes that the California Chamber of Commerce struck a deal with the California Labor Federation to remove a business-backed measure to repeal the Private Attorneys General Act. The 2004 law allows workers to sue their employers for labor violations in a manner similar to a class action lawsuit. Newsom’s office, which mediated the compromise, said in a statement that the agreement “avoids a contentious ballot measure campaign.”

•Newsom: “This proposal maintains strong protections for workers, provides incentives for businesses to comply with labor laws and reduces litigation.”

The deal calls for lawmakers to amend the law to reduce the fines employers pay if they agree to fix the problems, while increasing the amount paid to workers. It also calls for the state’s labor agencies to chip away at their backlog of wage theft claims by granting the Department of Industrial Relations greater hiring authority.

The California Chamber of Commerce said the new policies limit frivolous lawsuits that “cost employers billions,” while the California Labor Federation said the changes ensure “abusive practices by employers are cured and … workers are made whole, quicker.”

Learn more about the PAGA deal in Jeanne’s story.

Crime measure: Another ballot measure up in the air is the one to roll back Proposition 47, which some blame for the state’s rising crime rates.

Democratic legislative leaders who oppose unwinding Prop. 47 are pushing a crime bill package instead. But some Democrats are breaking ranks with leadership — either by pulling their bills from consideration or removing their names from the bills — because of “poison pill” amendments that would repeal these bills if they become law and the ballot measure passes.

Leaked emails obtained by CBS Sacramento also suggest a breakdown in negotiations between Newsom’s office and the coalition behind the Prop. 47 measure. The exchange shows the governor’s chief of staff declining to talk about both the crime bill package and the ballot initiative unless the coalition considers delaying the measure to 2026.

Tax measure: And a third is a business-backed anti-tax proposal that would require the Legislature to seek approval from voters for any new state tax and raise the voting requirement for local special taxes. Newsom and Democratic officials are suing to kick this measure off the ballot; the state Supreme Court announced it will issue a ruling on Thursday.

About the Author

Lynn La is the newsletter writer for CalMatters, focusing on California’s top political, policy and Capitol stories every weekday. She produces and curates WhatMatters, CalMatters’ flagship daily newsletter with more than 150,000 subscribers. Lynn is based in the Bay Area. She graduated from UC Davis and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.   

About CalMatters

CalMatters is a nonprofit, nonpartisan newsroom committed to explaining California policy and politics.

 

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