SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Legal Newsline) - As California lawmakers push closer to a possible budget vote that could help shore up one the state's worst economic crises ever, labor and environmental groups are asking Attorney General Jerry Brown to look into allegations of Republican lawmakers trading votes for favors, according to published reports.
The California Labor Federation, State Building and Construction Trades Council, the Sierra Club and the Planning and Conversation League wrote to Brown last week citing reports that state Republicans are withholding votes on the state budget while attempting to win votes on unrelated matters.
"It's a serious question and we're reviewing the matter carefully," Brown said after receiving the letter, which was also copied to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.
The letter states that Republicans have demanded other legislators' votes "for proposals that weaken labor and environmental standards as a condition for an 'aye' vote from Republican caucus members on the overall budget."
California Penal Code Section 86, according to the letter, prohibits lawmakers from giving or promising to give votes in exchange for votes on other issues.
Republicans responded by calling the accusations unfounded.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and legislative leaders reportedly finalized a budget deal on Thursday that would close a $42 billion budget deficit, the worst in the state's history.
Elements of the deal, though not finalized, have been leaked to journalists throughout the day. Reportedly the deal will include $15.8 billion in spending cuts, $14.3 billion in taxes and $10.9 billion in borrowing, the Sacramento Bee reported.
The state will increase the sales tax, the gasoline tax and the vehicle-value tax, while cutting funding to prisons, state worker holidays and pay and public transportation.
A vote is planned for Friday.