June 25, 2014
On Sunday, June 15th the California Legislature approved a $156.4 billion state budget with a 55-24 vote in the Assembly and a 22-11 vote in the Senate, beating a midnight deadline with a general fund that is the largest in state history.
The spending plan includes a general fund that is $7.3 billion larger than last year’s, totaling $108 billion. The general tenor from leadership during the floor discussion in both houses was pride in the investments they were able to secure (early learning expansion, small CalWORKs grant increases, funding for affordable housing) but recognition that they did not go far enough to reinvest in California’s poor and vulnerable.
The budget restores one of United Ways of California key health priorities, Black Infant Health Program, and gives additional money for child care, preschool programs, and CalWORKs.
It also initiates the pay down of a projected deficit of more than $74 billion in CalSTRs, the pension fund for teachers. Additionally, the budget dedicates 35% of the Cap and Trade funds to public transit and affordable housing projects and 25% for high-speed rail.
The Budget secures $1.6 billion into a reserve fund, known as the Governor’s “Rainy Day Fund.” This is an initial payment attempt to generate a shield for future economic declines. November will bring voters the chance to approve an amendment that will reserve money in the fund on a yearly basis to assist in paying off the state’s long-term costs and debt.
Key aspects of the budget:
Health programs not restored include: Early Mental Health Initiative and CA Children's Dental Disease Prevention Program.
Although funding passed in both chambers, there was criticism by Republicans, arguing that the state will not be capable of affording it if another recession strikes, combined with temporary tax increases expiring in a few years. Assemblymember Jeff Gorell (R-Ventura) questioned appropriating funds to high speed rail, and called the overall budget plan a “mixed bag.”
Newly elected Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) noted that no budget is absolutely perfect and neither side got everything they wanted, but that the budget was balanced and improves people’s lives. Senate Pro Tem Steinberg stated that the budget is something to be proud of as things are drastically better than they were a few years ago.
Governor Brown must sign the budget by June 30th to begin the fiscal year on July 1. That said, the Governor can line item veto components of the budget should he choose to do so.
Thanks to United Ways of California, the CA Children's Health Coalition, Western Center on Law and Poverty, Health Access, and Miami Herald Business report for providing pieces of this summary.
Please contact Public Policy Manager Eryn Mercer-Niehues with questions firstname.lastname@example.org