Dems strike a conservative budget deal



A Democratic supermajority and budget surplus—at least relative to recent years of aggressive cuts—allowed Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative leaders to barter a deal on the state budget ahead of deadline.

Under the plan, California will enter the fiscal year that begins July 1 with $96.4 billion to spend. Joint budget committee co-chairs Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) and Assemblyman Bob Blumenfield (D-Los Angeles) cautioned that they would demand more if revenues exceed Brown’s conservative estimates, as the Legislative Analyst’s Office recently predicted would happen.

“We’re going to accept the governor’s revenues not because we are convinced they are the most accurate revenues,” Blumenfield said during a June 10 hearing, “but we do have to get to a deal.”

The budget committee reported a deal on the main points on June 10, and released the full terms of the agreement the following afternoon. Legislators must vote to approve the budget by June 15 or suffer a pay decrease.

Brown credited the passage of Proposition 30 for the $850 million surplus, arguably the first in California since 2000. Fifty-five percent of voters approved the proposition on Nov. 6, 2012, moving the sales tax up 0.25 percent and hiking the income tax rate on those earning more than $250,000.

Under the compromise between Brown and more liberal Democrats, program cuts made in recent years remained largely in place. Most of the budget rollbacks will benefit K-12 education, which would get an extra $2.1 billion from the Proposition 30 pot. Schools in low-income areas hit hardest by the budget crisis would receive the most relief.

Not all Democrats applauded the compromise. Some called describing the budget situation as a surplus disingenuous considering the volume of programs cut during the crisis.

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