Brown Announces Budget With ‘Triggers’

     SACRAMENTO (CN) – California Governor Jerry Brown joined with powerful Democratic legislators Monday afternoon to announce a new budget plan that would not require any Republican votes. The new plan does not restore money cut from the judicial branch in earlier proposals.

     The plan to bridge a $9.6 billion budget gap assumes the state will be able to raise $4 billion in tax revenues in the next fiscal year, but includes “trigger” cuts that can be implemented if revenue projections are, as Brown put it, “overly optimistic.”
     “We do expect more revenues in the budget year coming up, but in case that’s overly optimistic, we do have severe trigger cuts that will be triggered and go into effect,” said the governor at a mid-afternoon press conference.
     Those cuts would affect kindergarten through high school, and higher education. The trigger cuts would also hit money for in-home support for meals and medicine. Brown also hinted the cuts could shorten the school year, but declined to elaborate.
     “We still have a wall of debt hanging out there, we still have work to do, but given that we can’t get any Republican support, it’s sufficient,” he said.
      Brown was joined in his office by Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) and Assembly Speaker John Perez, (D-Los Angeles) in outlining the new majority-vote plan. The budget is scheduled for a legislative vote on Tuesday.
     Brown vetoed an earlier version of the budget passed by the Legislature on June 16, saying the cuts did not “go far enough.”
      That budget included a $150 million reduction to the judicial branch’s budget, on top of earlier cuts, bringing the total amount in cuts for the 2011-12 judicial budget to $350 million. Those cuts are not coming off.
     An article in the Sacramento Bee online provides additional details.
     The following cuts from the original budget proposal will remain in the current budget proposal.
$50 million cut each to University of California, California State University
$150 million cut to state courts
$200 million in Amazon online tax enforcement
$2.8 billion in deferrals to K-12 schools and community colleges
$300 million from $12 per vehicle increase in DMV registration fee
$150 million from fire fee for rural homeowners
$1.7 billion from redevelopment agencies
$1.2 billion in higher May and June revenues.

     The current budget also excludes some items from the earlier proposal:
$1.2 billion from selling state buildings
$900 million from raising a quarter-cent local sales tax
$1 billion from First 5 commissions
$500 million cut in local law enforcement grants
$500 million deferral to University of California
$700 million in federal funds for Medi-Cal errors

     The current budget also ads revenue sources:
$4 billion in higher revenues in 2011-12, with triggered cuts
1.06 percentage point sales tax swap that redirects money to local governments.

     The triggers would come in tiers, said the posting by Kevin Yamamura with the Sacramento Bee.
     If the $4 billion in new revenue is not proportionately met in July-December figures, the shortfall would simply be pushed over into next year’s budget if the new revenue predictions still come in between $3 and $4 billion.
     If the new revenue hits in between $2 billion and $3 billion, cuts of $500 million will go into effect, including $200 from the state university systems, $100 million from corrections, and $200 million from Health and Human Services. The rest of the shortfall would roll over into next year’s budget.
     Finally, if the new money comes in under $2 billion, there will be a $1.5 billion cut from schools that assumes seven fewer days in the school year, plus $250 million cut from school bus transportation.

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