Surprise! California has a budget surplus
What's rarer than a conservative in Hollywood? A surplus in Sacramento. Gov. Jerry Brown's new budget closes the $25 billion deficit he inherited — and even shows a modest budget surplus.
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His budget includes a rainy day fund of $1 billion and even drew cautious praise from Republicans, the minority party in the Legislature. GOP lawmakers had opposed Brown's tax initiative and had refused to work with him a year earlier to raise taxes in exchange for pension overhauls.Skip to next paragraph
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Republican Assemblyman Jeff Gorell of Camarillo called Brown's proposal a "realistic budget framework." He said Republicans would try to ensure that the state's four-year higher education systems do not raise tuition for at least seven years — the length of time the higher income taxes on the wealthy will remain in effect.
The University of California and California State University each received $250 million more in the governor's budget proposal.
Brown said Thursday that he will urge higher education leaders to avoid charging students more after years of runaway tuition hikes.
He wants the additional money from the tax hikes focused on public schools. His plan includes $2.7 billion more for K-12 education and community colleges, bringing state and local spending to $56.2 billion.
Among Brown's priorities is creating a new education funding formula. It would be aimed at giving school districts more control over spending and directing state money to the neediest children and poorest districts.
His proposal is expected to run into opposition from lawmakers representing more affluent regions of the state, but Brown said the state should spend proportionally more on students who have "disproportionate challenges."
Spending cuts are still expected in some areas, such as the courts. Health care programs and social services will receive modest increases, largely as a result of the state's willingness to expand Medicaid under the federal health care reform law.
California's general fund spending hit a high of $103 billion before the recession and dropped to a low of $87 billion during the 2011-12 fiscal year, requiring lawmakers to make deep cuts.
Brown's budget proposal now goes to the Legislature and will be revised in May after the state gets a clearer picture of its tax revenue in the next fiscal year, which starts July 1. Lawmakers have until June 15 to send their own budget plan to the governor.