Governor proposes $138 billion California budget

The Latest on Gov. Jerry Brown's revised budget proposal.
								Posted May. 11 2018 10:23 AM					Updated May. 11 2018 10:23 AM								
								Posted By Heidi Rene

Republican Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez of Lake Elsinore said it's "the stuff of fiction" to say California has a budget surplus "when the state is staring down more than $200 billion in outstanding debt and liabilities".

The revised budget proposal predicted a surplus of $8 billion, even more than the $6 billion surplus predicted in the original proposal in January.

"As Isaac Newton observed: What goes up must come down", Brown said. "This is a time to save for our future, not to make pricey promises we can't keep", "Let's not blow it now". His proposal is $199.3 billion when including bonds and special funds, which are restricted for specific purposes.

"This will help us chip away at the $20 billion backlog the state has for deferred maintenance projects", said Michael Cohen, director of the state's Department of Finance.

But in a nod to legislative Democrats' focus on income inequality, Brown is expanding the state's Earned Income Tax Credit program to include workers between the ages of 18 and 25, and above 64.

Brown's latest budget is up almost $6 billion from his earlier proposal in January.

Garcetti traveled to Sacramento last month and was joined by mayors from California's 10 other largest cities to advocate for a state bill, AB 3171, that would allocate $1.5 billion from the state surplus budget to combat homelessness.

State universities also want a piece of the surplus, not to mention a list of new courthouse projects waiting to be funded. He noted, "Revenues have grown since January but so have expenditures".

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"We're already over-extended", Brown told reporters.

The debate consuming the Capitol today - what to do with $8.8 billion in extra cash - is a marked departure from the dilemma facing the governor when Brown returned to office in 2011 with a $27 billion budget deficit.

The governor is proposing putting about $4 billion of the surplus into one-time expenditures, including $2 billion to help state universities, facilities and courts tackle years of deferred infrastructure maintenance. That number remained unchanged in the revised budget. The Assembly and Senate have until June 15 to pass a budget under the state Constitution.

The final budget presentation by the four-term governor started on a playful note. But Brown, who won voter approval to raise sales and income taxes after taking office, said he crafted his latest spending proposal with the next economic downturn in mind: to buffer the state when the economy slumps.

Assemblyman Vince Fong, R-Kern County, gave a particularly bleak outlook of California's current state of affairs.

"Life is very giddy at the peaks. but I'm not giddy", he said. "You know once the government gets a hold of our money, it's really hard for them to let go of it". "We need to interrupt and interdict the cycle; that will take leadership because it's going to require changes in the laws that now exist". The governor wants to spend $359 million of the surplus to help local governments address the homelessness crisis and $312 million for programs that help people with mental illness, much of it directed to county programs serving youths. Since the end of the Great Recession, the UC system has received $1.2 billion in new funding, the California State University system has received $1.6 billion and community colleges have received $2.4 billion.

The proposed spending plan Brown released Friday would set aside $13 billion in California's rainy day fund for the next recession.

Both Cantil-Sakauye and Brown have also expressed support for reforming California's bail system, issuing a joint statement previous year voicing concern over how money bail affects the poor, and pledging to work toward a new system that considers both public safety and cost. "California needs to make a commitment to a modern mutual aid response system to meet the changing threat we face", said Brian Rice, president of California Professional Firefighters.

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