Capitol Chat: Gov. Brown's Final Budget

14 January, 2018, 00:14 | Author: Laura Christensen
  • 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

California's state government has opposed offshore drilling for almost 50 years, despite the presence of lucrative fossil fuel deposits, following an oil spill off the coast of Santa Barbara in 1969.

In his final year as governor, Jerry Brown is using his last budget proposal to boost some of the programs he's championed while stashing away billions of dollars in reserves that would help his successor weather a recession.

Brown projects California will have $6.1 billion in extra cash.

"My Senate Republican colleagues and I are advocating for a pragmatic "2-2-2" framework that ensures the surplus will not be squandered on spending we can not afford", Republican Leader Patricia Bates (R-Laguna Niguel) said in a statement. "This is about steady as you go, or exuberance followed by regret and pain". He's termed out after serving four terms, first in the 1970s and 1980s and again since 2011. While Brown points out pension obligations would be even higher were it not for the modest pension reforms enacted in 2012, the escalating pressure of retirement obligations on the state, school districts, counties and cities will be felt for years to come, at great cost to taxpayers. Brown had to finalize his budget in December, before the tax law was approved by Congress.

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

A plan in the state Senate would allow people to work around the change by making a charitable contribution to the state in lieu of state taxes.

Brown must sign a budget by June 30, giving him and lawmakers about five months to negotiate on spending priorities. But they viewed his presentation as just the first step in negotiations they hope will eventually result in higher spending in some areas.

"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. Brown's budget propounded $131.7 billion in prevalent fund revenue.

"Modesty is not good enough", said Mitchell, a Los Angeles Democrat.


"In a ideal world, the surplus would be returned to taxpayers", added Assemblyman Jay Obernolte of Hesperia, the top Republican on the Assembly budget committee.

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.

Brown's pension law required public employees hired after January 1, 2013 to contribute more money toward their retirements and capped their benefits by eliminating generous benefits the state gave to public workers during the dot-com boom. I am pleased he plans to release $640 million in bond funds to pay for critical school facilities.

Brown projects California will raise $643 million in taxes during the first full fiscal year of marijuana sales through licensed stores - less than the $1 billion that state experts previously predicated the program would raise. That's less than the $1 billion from earlier estimates.

Brown said the decision will help the state be ready for the next recession.

The proposed budget for K-14 education will grow to $78.3 billion, its highest level ever, and up $31 billion over the past seven years. Brown said Wednesday. "And for that reason, if none other, we are going to keep this steady as we go".

Timothy P. White, chancellor of the 23-campus Cal State system, was more forceful in his criticism, calling the budget's proposal to increase revenues by $92 million "both concerning and surprising" since the system asked for a $293 million hike.

State officials and economists said planning for the 2018-2019 budget cycle had been particularly hard this year.

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

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