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California proposes more spending on schools and roads

14 January, 2018, 00:15 | Author: Carla Brady
  • Gov. Jerry Brown unveils his 2018-19 budget on Wednesday Jan. 10

"California has faced ten recessions since World War II and we must prepare for the eleventh", Brown wrote in his budget letter to the state legislature.

Gov. Brown and Attorney General Xavier Becerra have fought almost every single major Trump administration policy, and have held out California's liberal policies as an alternative model for America to follow. "Let's not blow it now".

He's proposing a $190.3 billion spending plan today that accelerates funding for his signature education law and uses new gas tax revenue to fund $4.6 billion in new transportation projects.

Noting that a modest recession could cost the state as much as $20 billion yearly, Brown proposes building up the state's rainy day fund from $8.4 billion to $13.5 billion in order to at least limit some of the harms drastic cuts in spending prompted by a recession could cause.

The governor proposed socking most of the money away in a rainy-day fund whose creation he pushed for in 2014. His total general fund proposal spends $131.7 billion, plus an additional $59 billion in special funds and bonds used for specific purposes. Brown said Wednesday that the state is projecting a $6.1 billion surplus for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1. For K-12 schools, 2018-19 funding levels will increase by about $4,600 per student above 2011-12 levels. He argued for local empowerment but crafted his budget considering the realities of California's tax structure.

Brown also proposed full funding of a law passed previous year that waives all fees for first-time California community college students.

The budget also proposes a $570 million increase for community colleges and 3 percent funding increases each for the University of California and California State University as long as they hold the line on tuition. Local governments and school districts, meanwhile, have been drawing attention to their rising expenses on pensions, complaining that the costs are "crowding out" their ability to fund public services.




Additionally, the budget again increases state support for the University of California and the California State University by 3 percent. And his $12 billion spending plan for the state's prison and parole system includes new money to train ex-felons to become firefighters. "We want to continue our progress on college affordability to help more students graduate on time and with as little debt as possible - including funding free community college and providing more financial aid to incentivize students to complete a degree in a timely manner". It also uses revenue from California's recently-increased tobacco tax to boost pay for home-health providers.

Community rehabilitation programs would get $64.4 million, up almost $19 million from the current year. The state is even considering converting state taxes into charitable contributions for wealthy taxpayers to avoid Trump's new tax reforms, which cap state ant local tax (SALT) deductions at $10,000.

- A focus on "fix-it-first" investments to repair neighborhood roads, state highways and bridges ($2.8 billion).

- Matching locally generated funds for high-priority transportation projects ($200 million). It includes $2.8 billion to fix roads, highways and bridges.

Brown said his administration had turned what he described as a $27 billion deficit when he took office in 2011 into a surplus, adding that he doesn't want to leave a fiscal mess for his successor when he terms out after this year's election.

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 a year ago was unnecessary.

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