Governor Jerry Brown's new California budget proposal marks an
end to the crippling deficits that have plagued California for
years. It's also an attempt to make major policy changes -
without big increases in spending. But the governor's message
of fiscal restraint could find a warmer reception from Republicans
than from his fellow Democrats.
Thrifty Budget Also Includes Major Policy
by Ben Adler
Every January, with the governor's budget release, everyone
has the same question: How big is the deficit? It's been as
high as $40 billion, and when Jerry Brown took office two years
ago, it was $25 billion. Now, he says, it's zero. But,
he warns, he'll be saying "no" a lot this
Brown: "If you know what a
governor is, the governor on a machine, is that when the machine
tries to exceed a certain speed, the governor then depresses the
speed. So that is the metaphor for 2013."
His spending plan does call for an extra $2.7 billion for
schools and small increases for the UC and CSU systems. And
he sets aside money to help phase in the federal health care
overhaul. But that's about it for new
Brown: "I want to advance the
progressive agenda but consistent with the amount of money the
people made available."
Brown is also using his budget proposal to drive some major
policy changes. He wants to overhaul the funding system for
school districts. And he's hoping to use the budget for
leverage to reign in UC and CSU tuition increases and encourage
them to add more online
Brown: "I'm gonna do everything
I can to keep the university affordable - both to the state and to
Sacramento State political analyst Steve Boilard says Brown is
trying to keep faith with voters after they approved his tax
measure last fall.
Boilard: "There's a lot of
distrust, not just of how much people are paying to the government,
but what the government's doing with that money. So the
governor's trying to say, look, I'm not gonna spend a lot more
money, but I am going to spend the money that comes in
But Brown will face plenty of challenges: from uncertainty
surrounding the state's volatile revenues to the years of pent-up
pressure for new spending in the legislature.
Positive, Negative Reactions from Both Parties
by Amy Quinton
In presenting his budget, Governor Brown said fiscal
discipline is a fundamental predicate of democratic governance.
Legislative Democrats - who hold supermajorities in both
chambers - agree. But there is already pressure to restore
cuts, prompting Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg to offer
Steinberg: "I can only add
that we cannot forget and won't forget mental health, dental care
and subsistence for the elderly and disabled and other related
issues as the year progresses."
While Democrats expressed relief at a balanced budget,
Republicans remain skeptical. Senate Budget Vice-Chair Bill
Emmerson: "We've heard that
message before and by the time we get to May, it's not so
balanced. So the jury is out and we'll have to take a look at
that as we go through the process."
Both Democratic and Republican lawmakers applaud the
additional $2.7 billion for K-through-12 schools and community
colleges. But Republican Senate Leader Bob Huff says more
revenue generated by Proposition 30 should be going to
Huff: "I think that more money
going to education is a good thing, I think that voters should be
frustrated that only $2.7 billion of the $7 (billion) in new
revenues is actually going to education whereas it was represented
during the campaign that that would be going to
Funding for both the University of California and California
State University will increase by $125 million a year, less than
what the schools wanted. Assembly Speaker John Pérez has
backed middle class scholarships and offered a word of caution for
both university systems.
Pérez: "The clear expectation
and quite frankly the unambiguous commitment from the Governor and
from me is that they will not increase fees."
But as the budget moves through the legislature only one thing
is certain: It's likely to change.