Gov. Jerry Brown signed a $96.3 billon state budget Thursday, calling it a “big day for school kids and for California without health care or inadequate health care.”
The budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1 invests “in what people care most about – health care and education,” Brown said in a signing ceremony with leading legislators and administration officials at the Capitol. It includes Brown’s top education priority – the biggest reform of the way the state finances its K-12 schools since the passage of Proposition 13, along with $2.1 billion to begin to roll it out – and it includes the adoption of a provision in the federal Affordable Care Act extending the Medi-Cal program to 1.4 additional Californians. The federal government will pick up the full tab of their care for the next three years, after which the state will pay for 10 percent of the cost.
With the passage of Proposition 30 in November, providing an average of $6 million more in revenue for seven years, Brown could claim legitimately that “for the first time in a decade or more state finances are in solid shape.” The budget projects a surplus of $1 billion by June 30 2014.
Both Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and Assembly Speaker John Perez got what they wanted as well. For Steinberg, it was a restoration of dental care for 3 million adults, along with more money for mental health; for Perez, tuition aid to CSU and UC schools for families earning up to $150,000.
Special education took a hit in the final budget. Brown vetoed a $30 million appropriation for special education equalization that was approved by the Budget Conference Committee, writing in his veto message that it would have cost more than $300 million when phased in and reduced “available resources to pay off deferrals and to implement the flexible Local Control Funding Formula.”
He also cut $5 million from the preschool budget, reducing it from nearly $512 million to about $507 million. Brown wrote that even with this decrease, there will still be $25 million more in the preschool budget to increase the number of child care spots. However, he said that increase is just for the 2013-14 year, because beyond that it “would reduce future resources available for K-14 programs.”
With only a majority now needed to pass the budget and Democrats now holding a two-thirds supermajority, Brown didn’t need to negotiate with Republicans to pass the budget. In a statement, Sen. Republican Leader Bob Hoff of Diamond Bar said the budget “includes some positive steps forward in education funding and reform but it does not keep the campaign promises made to Californians that all the money from the Proposition 30 tax increases would go to fund schools.” He also said the budget fails to address “the nearly $200 billion of unfunded state employee retirement debt.”
Read previous EdSource Today coverage on the budget.
Senior reporter Kathryn Baron contributed to this report.
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