Published: Sat, January 13, 2018
World | By Paul Elliott

Gov. Brown proposes $131.7 billion state budget

Gov. Brown proposes $131.7 billion state budget

Brown exhibited and communicated the programs for the ultimate budget of his second eight-year period in office apprised that an economic recovery is a result of hitting the high spot is not very likely to last into his inheritor's term.

By my count, Governor Jerry Brown mentioned Proposition 13, the almost 40-year old property tax reform, three times during his press conference presenting a new state budget. This year, with only six months of taxing, the budget estimates $175 million in pot taxes.

The $132 billion general fund budget sprinkles money across schools and colleges along with roads and firefighting. His proposed budget, drenched in a $7 billion surplus, spends money sparingly, dumps dollars into a record rainy-day fund, and dodges big-ticket programs favored by his would-be successors.

Citing "widespread interest in treating the emerging adult offender group similar to today's juvenile offender population", Brown's new budget proposes creating a "young adult offender pilot program" at two sites in the state.

"We must remain vigilant and not let rosy statistics lull us into believing that economic downturns are a relic of the past", Brown wrote in a message to legislators.

Assemblyman Vince Fong, a Republican from Kern County and a former staffer of House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, said the forecast windfall was evidence that a gasoline tax increase passed by Democrats past year was unnecessary.

"In contrast to the tumultuous governance model championed by Washington these days, I am grateful to hail from a state that has prioritized fiscal responsibility and progressive investments", Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco and the chairman of the Assembly Budget Committee, said in a statement. "Here, modesty is not good enough".

Anthony Wright, executive director of the nonprofit Health Access California, cites an expected $6.1 billion surplus he said could have been used to move California toward universal health care coverage.

Proposition 2, approved by California voters in 2014, established a constitutional goal of reserving 10 percent of tax revenues in a Rainy Day Fund. Assembly Democrats want to bolster tax credits for low-income residents and expand health care for undocumented Californians, for instance, while Republicans have called for Brown to put more into paying down debt. The Senate is committed to protecting that progress, and building for the future with this budget.

The budget proposes a total increase of $570 million (4 percent) for community colleges, including a new funding formula that encourages colleges to enroll underrepresented students and rewards colleges for improving students' success in obtaining degrees and certificates. And his $12 billion spending plan for the state's prison and parole system includes new money to train ex-felons to become firefighters. That's less than the $1 billion from earlier estimates.

The governor's January proposal is an opening gambit in the long march toward a budget that is to be adopted in June, before the July 1 beginning of the fiscal year.

Brown voiced interest in that proposal Wednesday, telling reporters, "I'm certainly open to it".

The budget could also be rocked if voters approve a ballot initiative to repeal the gas tax that Brown championed past year, which raises $5 billion annually for road repairs and other transit. It boosted payments for Medi-Cal doctors and dentists who provide care for the poor and increased funding for education and social services. I applaud the Governor for bringing our budget reserve to 10% of the total state budget.

He's presided over a stark turnaround in California's fiscal fortunes.

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