Gov. Jerry Brown unveils new state budget proposal with rosier outlook

Toni Houston
May 13, 2017

"Voters were promised that these tax revenues would be used to pay for health care, dental care and education, yet the Governor's plan ignores that and redirects it for other purposes".

Governor Jerry Brown released a revised budget Thursday, with a focus on increased spending for schools and child care.

"Every year we have tight budgets", said Jim Nielsen, a Republican Senator from Tehama County.

The release of Brown's spending plan kicks off a month of negotiations with the Democrat-controlled Legislature.

Brown also wants to reverse a proposed $500 million cut for low-income childcare that he sought in January and revise his proposal to shift almost $600 million in costs to counties. Democratic lawmakers complained at the time that the cuts primarily targeted their priorities, such as funding for child care providers, affordable housing, and scholarships for middle-class students.

California Gov. Jerry Brown is seeking more spending on schools and child care.

Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez, R-Lake Elsinore, called the governor's budget a "Democrat con job", pointing to SB 1 as the prime example why.

As California copes with a tempering of the revenue growth that's helped it reverse crippling budget deficits, it must also contend with uncertainty about federal policies on taxes and health care, which could squeeze its finances.

He says his revised budget released Thursday withholds the money until the UC system accepts changes in a recent critical state audit.

Under the proposal, K-14 education funding would increase by $3.2 billion over last year, for a total increase of $27.3 billion (58 percent) since fiscal year 2012-13.

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Mac Taylor, the nonpartisan legislative analyst, said in January that the governor's deficit projection was probably overly conservative.

He said the state has increased spending to fight poverty by $19 billion over the last eight years, for example, and that "cuts are coming".

State data show that the Proposition 98 minimum guarantee of funding for K-14 schools has fluctuated over the years, dropping to a low of $47.3 billion in 2011-12.

The current plan has a slightly more optimistic revenue estimate than in January-it projects $2.5 billion more revenue-and Brown has proposed restoring some cuts he pushed for in January.

The budget negotiations come as the U.S. Congress considers repealing former President Barack Obama's health care law, which California embraced to add almost 4 million people to Medi-Cal.

Assemblyman Tom Lackey, R-Palmdale, issued his own statement, praising the governor's plan to pay off future debt but expressing frustration over what he called broken promises about where the money from a tax increase is going. Although most of the gas tax goes to fund road repairs and other transportation projects, tax revenues from gas sold to boaters and off-highway vehicles goes to State Parks, which would use it to upgrade roads, water systems and campgrounds. As a result, revenue for the first 10 months of this fiscal year fell short by $136 million.

The Legislature has until June 15 to approve a budget for the fiscal year starting July 1. Brown's budget siphons that money to general state spending instead, Mayes said.

Four senators from Northern California want $100 million for levee repairs at the Oroville Dam, where almost 200,000 people who live downstream had to be evacuated after heavy rains exposed weaknesses earlier this year.

But threatened by the dismantling of the ACA in Congress, California could soon lose $6 billion a year in federal money, a loss that could steadily rise to an estimated $24 billion annually over the next decade - money the state would have to make up to keep the huge program operating.

Other reports by Ligue1talk

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