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Parties Clash Over Budget Transparency

The California State Capitol Building in Sacramento (file photo)
Andrew Nixon
Capital Public Radio
The California State Capitol Building in Sacramento (file photo)

Lawmakers will begin voting on the California budget on Friday. But Republicans say they’ll also have to vote on several bills they know little about.  Katie Orr reports from Sacramento.

The budget is the big picture bill. It dictates where the state’s money will go. Trailer bills are attached to the budget and spell out how the money will be allocated.

Typically trailer bills are published a few days before the budget vote. This year the earliest of at least 15 came out Wednesday morning.

That angers Republicans who say they weren’t involved in the budget process and now they haven’t had enough time to study the trailer bills. Senator Jim Nielsen says it’s disrespectful.

“There were times and traditions where both parties respected the integrity of the institution and the institution’s processes. And one of those things was that you knew what you were voting on,” says Nielsen.

But Democratic Senator Mark Leno says fears that his party is trying to sneak something by the Republicans are unfounded. He says those same arguments are made every year.

And rather than bring up some evidence of something nefarious that happened last year or the year before, there’s just more suspicion about this current year,” says Leno.

Still, outside groups have called for more transparency in the process. And in 2010 a Republican Senator proposed a Constitutional Amendment that would have required bills to be in print for 72 hours before any action. The amendment died in committee.