California state budget: Here's why to hold the applause for Brown

Gov. Jerry Brown holds a budget chart as he discusses his proposed 2016-17 state budget at a news conference in Sacramento Calif. The ballooning costs are an issue Brown will face in his final year in office despi

The proposed total state budget, which includes income generated from bonds and other special funds as well as tax revenues, would be $190.3 billion, up 4 percent from the current fiscal year.

"As Gov. Brown comes to the end of his administration, we applaud him for his demonstrated commitment to greater accountability, transparency and improved completion", Siqueiros said.

Brown's new General Fund budget is a record $131.7 billion, a 4.1% increase over a year ago.

Another $4.6 billion would go toward transportation projects, including $2.8 billion for roads and bridges and $721 million for passenger rail and public transit.

The biggest battle in this year's California budget process is likely to be about what to do with an estimated $7.5 billion budget surplus.

Consistent with Brown's record of presiding over record spending while simultaneously urging restraint, Brown's message to the Legislature stressed the inevitability of a recession in the near future and the importance of preparing for it. "Let's not blow it now".

Seven years later, the state's fortunes have flipped, thanks to one of the longest economic expansions in modern history and to voters' decision to pass the Proposition 30 tax hikes in 2012. Almost 70% of the state's projected revenue of about $135 billion next fiscal year is derived from personal income taxes, according to the governor's office. For the Senate, that means investing in our K-12 schools - especially by fully funding our Local Control Funding Formula to help close the achievement gap in our state.

But legislative Democrats still have a lot they'd like to accomplish in the state.

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"I think there's more financial uncertainty between Washington and Sacramento than in the past", said Jerry Nickelsburg, director of the University of California, Los Angeles Anderson Forecast, a leading forecaster.

"You have our piggy bank, which is the Rainy Day Fund".

The $132 billion spending proposal includes notable investments in education for foster youth in the state; a new home visiting program for moms receiving welfare; and a bid to divert some young adults from prisons into juvenile facilities.

Brown sent this annual budget proposal to the California Legislature Wednesday for the sixteenth and final time. Buoyed by their victory on federal tax reform, House Speaker Paul Ryan says he'll next try to cut federal spending on welfare and Medicare, moves that could affect California's budget.

The 2015 and 2016 budgets allocated $960 million to the most critical deferred maintenance projects such as levees and high-priority state facilities including office buildings and the Capitol Annex, according to the budget document.

The governor's spending plan would allocate $4.6 billion in new transportation funding in fiscal 2018-19 including $2.8 billion to fix neighborhood roads, state highways and bridges, $556 million for trade and commute corridors, $200 million for high-priority transportation projects and $721 million for passenger rail and public transit modernization.

Brown's budget would direct $1.3 billion to natural resources and housing infrastructure spending presuming that state bond measures passed by the Legislature past year will be approved by voters in November.

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