Brown: spend more on schools

SACRAMENTO
May 14, 2013 10:18am
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•  UPDATED with reaction as it comes in

•  Proposes budget changes as more money comes in

•  “This budget builds a solid foundation for California's future”


California should put at least some of its increased revenue toward education, says Gov. Jerry Brown.

But as important, he says, will be using a portion of higher revenue to pay down debt built up over the years.

"This budget builds a solid foundation for California's future by investing in our schools, continuing to pay down our debts and establishing a prudent reserve," says Mr. Brown in unveiling his “May revise” budget. "But California's fiscal stability will be short-lived unless we continue to exercise the discipline that got us out of the mess we inherited."

The revised budget plan unveiled Tuesday is balanced and on track to lower the state’s debt to $4.7 billion by 2017 — a reduction of over 86 percent, the governor’s office says.

This is being achieved through billions of dollars in permanent cuts in the 2011-12 and 2012-13 budgets as well as temporary revenues passed by voters last year.

At the center of the May revision is an increase in the state’s public schools spending. From 2011-12 to 2016-17, the Proposition 98 guarantee will increase more than $19 billion from $47.3 billion to $66.5 billion.

The plan provides $1,046 more per K-12 student in 2013-14 than was provided in 2011-12 and funding levels will increase by $2,754 per student through 2016-17, the governor’s office says.

In addition to the higher ongoing funding, the May revision proposes to invest $1 billion in one-time revenues to fund professional development, instructional materials and enhancements to technology to support implementation of new national standards for evaluating student achievement in English-language, arts and math (known as Common Core Standards).

The May revision also adds $240 million in first-year funding for the Local Control Funding Formula for a total of $1.9 billion. It gives all districts the chance to improve with new ongoing funding based on the number of students served, directs additional resources to the state’s neediest students and restores local control over how money is spent in schools, the governor’s office says.

The May revision also proposes:

• A state-based approach to the optional expansion of subsidized medical care allowed under federal law. Such an expansion would “significantly increase” health care coverage and access to new federal dollars, the governor’s office says.

• A revenue-neutral revamping of the state’s enterprise zone and hiring credit programs to encourage manufacturing investment and increase employment in high-poverty areas.

• An additional $48 million in CalWORKs job training and subsidized employment opportunities.

• To maintain a $500 million increase to the University of California and California State University systems with additional increases in each of the next four years to make higher education more affordable, more efficient and to maintain quality.

While the budget is projected to remain in balance for the foreseeable future, the governor’s office says that could be derailed by the uncertain economic recovery, court rulings and actions from the federal government.

Reaction is varied:

• Sen. Anthony Cannella,R-Ceres: “I want to applaud the Governor for the restraint he has shown in his revised budget plan. The voters showed trust in state government in November by approving a tax increase and we owe it to them to use the money as it was intended. I remain concerned that the Legislature will redirect these funds towards new programs instead of improving education and public safety and tackling our ‘Wall of Debt.’ I appreciate the increases he has proposed to help with prison realignment, but still believe that more can be done.”

• Courtney Hooks of Justice Now: "The Governor's unwillingness to back even watered down reforms to parole and good time credits shows he continues to be more committed to the law enforcement lobby than the health and wellbeing of Californians. The Legislature has a chance to break from Brown's racist fear mongering and write a budget that follows the clear will of Californians to shorten harsh sentences."

• Debbie Reyes of the Prison Moratorium Project: "Brown's budget repeats the bad news of his so-called plan for prison overcrowding. In his plan, he told the Federal Court that he supports no programs to reduce the prison population and wants to reduce crowding by building more prisons and leasing more cells. Today we see that plan in dollars and cents.”

• Emily Harris, statewide coordinator of Californians United for a Responsible Budget: "The Californians who have suffered the most from cuts to the safety net, to public housing, to job programs, and to increases in the cost of higher education are the same Californians whose family members have been swept into prisons and jails. Let's be clear that the state has been spending money on poor Californians and communities of color. That money has been spent on more police, jails, more prisons -- programs that destroy lives, destroy families and destroy neighborhoods."

• California State University Chancellor Timothy White: “The funding proposed for public higher education in the Governor’s May Revise is a critical investment in the future of California. We look forward to working with the Governor and legislature to invest these educational resources while ensuring the accountability of our universities and the success of our students in a way that upholds the mission of the California State University.”

• Sierra Club California Director Kathryn Phillips (noting that the revised budget shifts half a billion dollars out of the cap and trade funds, as a one-year loan, to the Department of Finance): “This decision will delay opportunities to use those funds to capture critical reductions in global warming pollution at a time when all science shows that we must reduce those emissions as much and as quickly as possible. This shift in funds is extraordinarily disappointing. The governor is using bizarre accounting to ‘balance’ the budget and making future generations pay the price with climate disruption.”

• Senate Republican Leader Huff, R-Diamond Bar: “The Governor has revenue estimates that are lower than anyone expected, largely due to the increased payroll tax suppressing the economy. Higher tax rates and continuing high unemployment mean less money in people’s pockets and less money to propel the economy. We have common ground with the Governor in a belief that we cannot return to a culture of overspending that drives new budget crises. Governor Brown referred to this as a ‘Call for Prudence,’ we would call it ‘Common Sense.’ It seems that the Governor’s biggest budget challenge will be in restraining legislative Democrats and their growing wish list of new spending.”

• California Manufacturers & Technology Association President Jack Stewart: "We appreciate that the Governor proposes the addition of a statewide sales tax exemption on the purchase of manufacturing equipment. This will make California a more competitive place to scale up production.

It is critical that we re-build our middle class and grow high-wage manufacturing jobs. California still has almost 1.8 million people unemployed that could benefit from a growing manufacturing sector."


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