Governor Jerry Brown, announcing the final budget proposals of his four terms as Governor of the Golden State, appears to be mixing savings with investing and insuring his legacy while “wrapping up” loose ends.
In what has been typical for him of late, the Governor cautioned that the current economic recovery may soon become one of the longest in the State’s history but that recoveries do not last forever.
In addition to the amount mandated by voters in Prop 2, he added $3.5 billion to the rainy day fund which will bring it to 100 percent of its target by the end of 2019. The new Federal tax law added uncertainty to the State’s fiscal future noted the Governor, in further justifying the supplemental contribution to the fund.
In what amounts to a “maintenance” approach, Governor Brown highlighted increased funding for K-12 education; continued funding for the Children’s Health Insurance and Medi-Cal programs despite the uncertainty at the national level; and “investment” in such areas as infrastructure (e.g. road maintenance through the new gas tax), high-speed rail which he characterizes as “commuter’ corridor enhancements and housing programs which the legislature approved last year.
His approach to education proposes to finish funding the Local Control Funding Formula, his landmark K-12 education financing law, two years ahead of schedule. The Governor also seeks to enhance community college opportunities by offering a year of free tuition to eligible students and introducing a new online-only community college.
Advocates for the poor also noted stable funding for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program and the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit.
Finally, the Governor pointed to the State’s efforts to enhance public safety through stronger rehabilitation programs leading to reduced recidivism in the state’s correctional efforts.
The Budget proposal will now be largely dormant until what’s called the “May Revise” when the state’s revenue and expenditure totals are sharpened. The legislature will then debate the budget in earnest until June 15 when they are constitutionally required to pass it. After that, the Governor will have the final say since with his line-item veto powers.