Running up against a constitutional deadline, Assembly and Senate leaders struck a budget deal with Gov. Gavin Newsom late Monday. Budget committees leapt into informational hearings detailing the many last-minute changes before the two houses cast the final votes on the sweeping legislation Tuesday afternoon.

The Legislature had already sent Newsom a budget bill on June 15 without a broad agreement. The 22 new trailer bills revised many of those provisions, offering little time for public scrutiny and creating confusion among lawmakers, lobbyists and reporters.

Republican lawmakers decried the deal for failing to cut spending enough.

“The easiest way to balance the budget is to assume more revenue [is coming],” said GOP Senator Roger Niello of Fair Oaks.

The budget deal made incremental changes from the Legislature’s plan for spending on incentive programs for climate-smart agriculture. It authorizes the State Water Resources Control Board and its regional boards to assess fees on water districts to cover staff costs for permitting new recycling projects, a key component of the governor’s water supply strategy. Newsom was also able to codify into state law his executive order easing the regulatory requirements for diverting flood flows to recharge groundwater aquifers.

On the conservation side, the package grants the Department of Fish and Wildlife new authority to protect the Western Joshua Tree, despite the Fish and Game Commission deciding not to list the species as endangered.

Lawmakers, however, punted on the most controversial trailer bills, Newsom’s package of last-minute proposals to fast-track infrastructure projects throughout California. He sought to expedite the measures as part of the main budget package in order to enact them on July 1, the start of the fiscal year. Pushing the bills past the budget deadline and through policy committee hearings buys more time for lawmakers to negotiate amendments on the measures.

One of the most contentious bills at the heart of the negotiations would streamline environmental permits for the administration’s proposal for a water conveyance tunnel beneath the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. A bipartisan group of lawmakers representing the region have fiercely opposed the bill.

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“A proposal as large, controversial and dangerous as the Delta tunnel needs to be subject to the highest standards of review, public input and expert opinion,” said Asm. Carlos Villapudua of Stockton. “Any attempt to avoid this is simply inappropriate and needs to be reconsidered.”

The Assembly and Senate leaders on Tuesday established a new select committee to dig further into the details of the trailer bills. Sen. Mike McGuire of Healdsburg, chair of the committee, assured the administration the committee will move with urgency while proving the state can still tackle its clean energy goals.

In introducing the legislative package earlier this month, the Newsom administration stressed that California often misses out on federal infrastructure dollars due to the perception that it is too slow to put the money to work. To meet an aggressive ramp down in the sales of gas- and diesel-powered engines, Newsom needs the state to tap into that revenue to build more charging and grid infrastructure to power the zero-emission vehicles.

Senate President pro Tempore Toni Atkins indicated on Monday that the agreement includes provisions for the state to hire workers from “our most vulnerable communities” for the infrastructure projects, alluding to negotiations with prominent labor unions over clean energy jobs. The agreement was the final act of Anthony Rendon in his role as Assembly Speaker. He called the deal “a budget for the future.”

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