Partisan eco-impasse stalls budget vote in California

California’s massive state budget is nearly six weeks overdue, and a partisan eco-impasse is a major factor. The state Assembly passed a spending plan in late July, but it’s stalled out in the state Senate. The current sticking point: the 37-year-old California Environmental Quality Act, under which the state can sue cities, counties, and developers that don’t fully consider the eco-impacts of new development projects — impacts that, these days, include climate change. Republicans are seeking a ban on such suits for three years, saying voter-approved funding should go “into levees and not into lawsuits.” Democrats are peeved. “I’m here today to remove any doubt or ambiguity about where I am and where my caucus is,” said Senate President pro tem Don Perata at a press conference yesterday. “I will not bargain away California’s environment to oil refiners or multistate developers.” Just one more vote would pass the thing; Perata says no other legislation will be taken up until that happens.