Looking to close $54bil coronavirus deficit, Calif. tucks in weapons ban in budget

Hours after Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a budget emergency, California State Senators approved a $202.1 billion spending package late on Thursday night.

The California State Assembly returns to session on Friday to pass the spending plan.

The declaration of budget emergency by Newsom opened the door for legislators to tap the state’s rainy-day reserve fund to balance the budget.

In sum, the spending package closes California’s $54 billion deficit with $2.8 billion in state worker salary reductions, $1.7 billion in spending cuts to higher education, $150 million from California’s judicial system, and another $248 million from housing programs.

The spending bill also relied on internal borrowing from oft-underutilized programs, such as a fund for responding to oil spills, and a temporary tax increases on businesses to raise more than $4 billion in revenue.

California budget bills often become so-called “Christmas trees” filled with often irrelevant measures to funding the government.

Despite the steep pandemic impact to the Golden State’s bottom line, the Fiscal Year 2020-2021 budget would be no different.

Tucked in the budget bill was an expansion of the state’s assault weapons ban that would ban a new type of gun that is a hybrid of a pistol and assault-style rifle.

The gun, it should be noted, is not currently sold in California.

Staff reports from The San Joaquin Valley Sun staff.