Gov. Jerry Brown’s budget proposal for the 2014-15 fiscal year is a good start, but shortchanges too many state programs and services, such as child care and higher education, that are critical to full economic recovery, according to the nonprofit, nonpartisan California Budget Project.
“While an improved revenue outlook means that there’s some progress in key areas, we argue that the governor’s proposal represents an incomplete vision for investing in California’s future,” said Chris Hoene, executive director of the Budget Project, during a briefing in Sacramento and online Wednesday morning.
Hoene noted that while the governor’s budget proposal would increase public school funding from a low of $7,401 per student in the 2011-12 academic year to $9,194 next year, bringing them almost up to pre-recession levels, it wouldn’t restore any cuts to state child care and preschool programs.
Since 2007-08, when the recession hit, state subsidized child care and preschool lost nearly 40 percent of their budgets, eliminating 107,000 slots for low-income families. Restoring those positions would cost between $1.3 billion and $1.4 billion, according to the Budget Project.
The University of California and California State University are each in line for a little more than $142 million in additional funding for 2014-15, but that’s still about a 50 percent drop in the state’s contribution to higher education since the 1980s.
Hoene said the state could afford to restore child care and preschool and bump up other budgets if Brown stays with his original plan for paying down the state’s debt instead of accelerating the schedule to pay off what the governor calls the “wall of debt.”
“The budget leaves many essential services and systems operating with diminished levels of funding at a time when there are still high poverty levels and high levels of long-term unemployment, and a lot of folks still hurting,” Hoene said.
Despite the economic recovery, more than 1 in 5 California children under 18 are in families living below the federal poverty level of $23,850 for a family of four.