On Time, California OKs $122.5 Billion Budget

     SACRAMENTO (CN) — Responding to Gov. Jerry Brown’s calls to prepare for future recessions, the California Legislature on Wednesday passed a $122.5 billion budget that deposits billions into the state’s reserves, yet increases spending on a range of social services.
     The budget proposal adds $6 billion to the state’s burgeoning rainy-day fund, dedicates nearly $3 billion to paying down debt and funds a multibillion-dollar plan to build permanent housing for the homeless.
     Passed hours before a legislative deadline by party-line vote, Democrats called it a responsible budget, while Republicans bemoaned the increased spending and new tax programs.
     “I am pleased to join Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León, many of my legislative colleagues in both houses and Gov. Brown in approving a budget that stimulates economic growth, saves for the future and protects millions of California families,” said Senate Budget Committee Chair Mark Leno, D-San Francisco.
     De León praised Leno for negotiating and piecing together the Legislature’s budget proposal before the June 15 deadline. The two embraced on the Senate floor after the vote. The Senate majority leader called the budget “fiscally sound” and said it hedges “against harder times.”
     The proposal falls in line with Brown’s May budget bill, which included $122 billion in general fund spending. It includes nearly $5 billion in increased spending from last year’s budget.
     At the behest of the legislative women’s caucus, the Legislature moved to repeal a decades-old program which prohibited increased state aid for children born into families already receiving welfare. Lawmakers estimate eliminating the “maximum family grant” could benefit more than 130,000 children while costing the state more than $100 million in the program’s first year.
     Included in the plan is $427 million to boost pay for the state’s subsidized child care providers. The bill also adds $100 million to create 9,000 new preschool slots over the next three years.
     Republicans largely applauded the plan to boost the rainy-day fund but blasted Democrats for including new taxes. The minority party called the spending plan a “classic bait and switch” and criticized Democrats for overspending despite Brown’s warnings of a declining economy.
     “One-party domination in California has resulted in the nation’s highest taxes, worst regulatory and litigation environment and created our present day situation where Californians experience the nation’s highest poverty rate, and businesses leave our state in droves,” said Assemblyman Travis Allen, R-Huntington Beach.
     Allen abstained from the vote. Just one Republican voted for the bill, state Sen. Anthony Cannella, R-Ceres.
     Vehicle registration fees will increase by $10 per vehicle starting next year, generating around $400 million for state agencies. The bill also increases consumers’ cellphone service fees.
     Assembly Republican Leader Chad Mayes, R-Yucca Valley, said the on-time budget bill is “nothing to celebrate” and that Republicans are “once again left with the unpopular job of speaking the truth and fighting for fiscal responsibility.”
     The bill heads to Brown for final approval and the fourth-term Democratic governor is expected to sign it.
     “Good work from the state Legislature: We’re building reserves and investing in California,” Brown tweeted.

%d bloggers like this: