SACRAMENTO -- On the 100th day of the fiscal year, California lawmakers approved the tardiest budget in state history Friday morning after a marathon session at the Capitol.
The $87.5 billion spending plan relies on rosy assumptions about revenues from taxpayers and the federal government, as well as reductions to state worker pay, prisons, and social services. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed it Friday afternoon, enacting the final budget of his gubernatorial career.
The last vote was cast in the Senate at 8:25 a.m. The package of spending bills had been held up in the upper house for hours as Democratic leaders tried to overcome the loss of three of their members -- two to illness and one to a court date in Los Angeles.
State leaders faced a $19 billion deficit that the result of faulty solutions in last year's budget, as well as a prolonged economic downturn and a permanent imbalance between how much California spends and how much it receives in revenues.
Republicans and Democrats disagreed for months over how much spending to cut and whether to raise taxes. But their debate in the final days ultimately seemed to hinge on whether Democrats and labor unions would agree to cut pensions for future state workers, which Schwarzenegger demanded all year.
In the end, Democrats helped broker a deal between Schwarzenegger and the largest state worker union, Service Employees International Union Local 1000, to establish a lower tier of pension benefits for workers hired starting in mid-November.
Schwarzenegger said Friday that he will likely veto $965 million of the $87.5 billion spending.
Locally, the reaction to 2010-2011 budget was mixed.
Atwater City Manager Greg Wellman said he was disappointed with the budget because it's siphoning more money away from cities.
"This is deja vu all over again," he said. "The state of California continues to perpetuate unjustified raids on local government funds to make its own budget appear less onerous."
Merced County's CEO, Larry Combs, said of the budget that it's too early to tell how much it may help or harm the county. But he said that he's not very happy with the tentative budget as it stands.
"It looks about as good as they can do for counties, but it's not a realistic budget. It will be out of balance by the end of the year," he said.
UC Merced has praised the state for allotting more than $100 million to support the school.
The funding entails $81 million for construction of the Science and Engineering II building, $10 million in base funding for operations, $6.5 million for continued site development and infrastructure at UC Merced and $5 million in supplemental operating funds, according to UC Merced officials.
"We are very pleased that the approved state budget reflects the critical importance of higher education to the people of California," said UC Merced Chancellor Steve Kang. "We expressly thank Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has enthusiastically supported UC Merced since before the campus opening in 2005. His readiness -- along with the Legislature's -- to include these funds this year attests to their commitment to UC Merced and to the growing contribution this campus is making to the San Joaquin Valley and the state."
UC Merced spokeswoman Patti Waid Istas said the funding offered by the state was the amount the school had anticipated.
"This is a perfect example of us working with the state to accommodate more students and faculty," she said.
Construction on the Science and Engineering II building will begin this academic year and should be completed by fall 2014, she said.
Sun-Star reporters Jonah Owen Lamb, Jamie Oppenheim and Mike North contributed to this story.