SACRAMENTO -- The state Legislature on Thursday overwhelmingly passed a fresh version of a rainy day fund measure for the November ballot, a bipartisan plan that seeks to smooth out the boom-and-bust cycles of state budgeting while creating a clear path for paying down California's massive debts and unfunded liabilities.
Lawmakers voted 75-0 in the Assembly and 36-0 in the Senate to replace a rainy day fund measure already scheduled to go before voters this fall. The proposed constitutional amendment required a two-thirds vote in both houses and easily surpassed that threshold.
It does not require action by Gov. Jerry Brown, who negotiated the deal with legislative leaders of both parties.
Democratic and Republican lawmakers praised the compromise during debate in both houses.
"This is a genuine bipartisan proposal that will build on the progress we made in terms of stabilizing and strengthening California's finances," said Assemblyman John Perez, D-Los Angeles, who negotiated the deal before stepping down as speaker this week. "It represents a commitment to break the bad habits of the past."
The version that passed during a special legislative session Thursday, known as Assembly Constitutional Amendment 1, will create a reserve funded primarily from excess capital gains revenue during boom years as well as an annual contribution equal to 1.5 percent of the state's general fund. The set yearly contribution was a provision pushed by Republican lawmakers.
"I think it demonstrates to the people of California that when you have a robust bipartisan discussion, you can make things better because we all bring something to the table..." said Senate Minority Leader Bob Huff, R-Diamond Bar. "To that end, we wanted to make sure that it's truly a rainy day fund, and not an everyday fund."
If voters approve ACA1 in November, half the money in the fund will be dedicated to paying down California's long-term debts and liabilities for the next 15 years. The Legislative Analyst's Office has estimated those liabilities at $340 billion, mostly for public employee pension obligations and retiree health care costs.