Nielsen Urges Transparency In Budget Process

Thursday, March 22, 2012

SACRAMENTO (March 22, 2012) - Assembly Budget Committee Vice Chair Jim Nielsen (R-Gerber) today strongly criticized majority Democrats for passing 37 so-called budget "spot" bills which contain no substantive details and will be passed on to the Senate where amendments can be adopted and brought back to the Assembly with no right to amend, but only vote on them.

"How ironic, last week we had transparency week and today we have all these bills that are the antithesis of transparency," said Nielsen. "By voting for the 37 spot bills that mean absolutely nothing, the Democrats have disgraced the peoples' legislative process."

During Thursday's Assembly session, Democrats passed 37 empty budget spot bills to the Senate.  The Senate passed a similar number of bills over to the Assembly, amounting to 80 spot bills. The proposals did not contain any specific language, but will be amended at a later date to reflect the majority party's budget proposal. 

Nielsen said that the current process of passing budget spot bills empowers majority Democrats on the Budget Conference Committee to drop their own budget plans at the eleventh hour.  This does not allow for committee hearings to be held, nor does it give the public the opportunity to review or weigh in on the plan before the entire Legislature is asked to cast a vote. 

"All of these spot bills are new venues for all kinds of games that will be played and things will be introduced that we don't know anything about," said Nielsen during today's floor speech.  "There will be no in-depth policy committee discussions on these issues; what we've got here is governing in the dark of night."

Despite Nielsen's urge to the Democrats "If ever there was a time for you to take a stand for the integrity of this public process, do it now," they passed the 37 empty spot bills on a party-line vote. "The public should be outraged, the media should be outraged," said Nielsen.