'Expedited' budget request could help shorten California recall calendar

State Senator Steve Glazer (D-Orinda) has set out in the last few days why he believes that Newsom and the democratically led state legislature should do everything possible to shorten the electoral timeframe. | AP photo

SACRAMENTO – Governor Gavin Newsom’s budget officials Tuesday asked California counties to speed up their estimates of recall costs by June 1. This could help the state hold a recall election sooner than the fall.

Newsom Treasury Secretary H.D. Palmer said Tuesday the request for “expedited” information was made in response to the counties’ request to ask the state for callback funding on May 4th. He said the finances want to submit an estimate to state lawmakers before they have to approve a budget by June 15.

“In order to support the legislative review of these costs by June 15, the Treasury Department is now requesting estimated cost information from the counties on an accelerated basis,” said the financial letter to the district officials.

However, compiling this information could avoid the need for an extended 30-day Treasury Department review, which many had assumed was part of the election calendar for the 2021 recall. If the finance department does an estimate by June 15 – and lawmakers approve money based on that forecast – both companies may not need anywhere near the 60 days of financial review required by a 2017 law. The state does not require finances or lawmakers to use full review periods before the Secretary of State confirms the election.

State Senator Steve Glazer (D-Orinda) has set out in the last few days why he believes that Newsom and the democratically led state legislature should do everything possible to shorten the electoral timeframe. Recent polls have shown that voters are more optimistic and tend to oppose the recall elections. In California, infection rates have fallen and vaccines have been rampant over the past month as businesses reopen on a larger scale.

Glazer believes the state could hold the recall in late August rather than late October or early November, as many had speculated. His office believes Finance could cut its 30-day time slot for reviewing costs to a day in late June, while lawmakers could do the same. That could cut the process by almost two months.

“Right now, Gavin Newsom is in control of vaccine distribution and the budget … he’s in good shape,” he told POLITICO last week. “”

Palmer said Finance’s request for expedited information does not predict how the department will use the 30-day window imposed by law, and that the efforts have been driven by household needs. He noted that the department may need additional information from counties and government agencies in the coming weeks.

It is also not clear that the Joint Legislative Budget Committee would collapse its 30-day deadline. The latest move, however, lays the groundwork early that civil servants and democratic lawmakers could do.

Tom Del Beccaro, chairman of RescueCalifornia.org, one of the two major recall groups, said he believed Republicans will have more energy to vote on the recall no matter when it takes place.

He quoted a recent one Los Angeles Times / Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll that showed twice as many Republicans interested in the recall as compared to Democrats and Independents. Regarding the turnout, he said, “it balances the pitch – and the registration pitch,” which currently gives the Democrats a 46 to 24 percent advantage in voter registration.

Even so, Del Beccaro admitted that an early recall would be a mixed bag. For Republicans, more time would provide better opportunities to educate voters on issues that could encourage support for recalls – like the EDD scandal under Newsom’s watch, he said.

While Republicans are more interested in the recall, the voting threshold is not as high as in a normal special election. Democratic lawmakers and Newsom passed law earlier this year requiring districts to send a postal vote to each voter, citing Covid-19 security concerns, as they did in the November 2020 election.

District officials have estimated that holding the recall election with pandemic restrictions could cost $ 400 million.

Newsom tried to keep the recall date at a distance on Monday.

“That is determined by a series of measures taken by the legislature, the Ministry of Finance and the Secretary of State [office] takes, and they will make that decision. Period, ”Newsom said during a press conference on funding the Sacramento area’s forest fire budget.

Glazer pointed out political pitfalls for Newsom last week as the state penetrates deeper into the fall. He noted that October and November are the main seasons of the fire; Residents spent many days in the house last fall because the sky was filled with smoke. Rotating power outages and outages caused by heat remain a possibility. And this fire season is already on the way to getting worse than last year as the state endures another drought.

The Democratic Senator, once adviser to former Governor Jerry Brown, also noted that Newsom could bypass legislative battles by calling the recall before the September and October signing period. And the state’s Covid-19 rates may have a better chance of staying low over the summer, he suggested.

“You are wise to keep your options open,” Glazer said Tuesday of the financial move.

But Del Beccaro said August wasn’t a cake for Newsom. Then students return to school and delays or obstacles in reopening the next school year may be a priority.

“I always thought it was the end of August or the beginning of September – but their political calculation could be due to forest fires and drought. You had better hurry,” said Del Beccaro.

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