He's proposing a $190.3 billion spending plan today that accelerates funding for his signature education law and uses new gas tax revenue to fund $4.6 billion in new transportation projects.
"[We] must remain vigilant and not let rosy statistics lull us into believing that economic downturns are a relic of the past", Brown wrote. Another $2.3 billion would go to the state's operating reserve fund. For the Senate, that means investing in our K-12 schools - especially by fully funding our Local Control Funding Formula to help close the achievement gap in our state. Included in the community colleges budget increase is $46 million for the first year of implementation for Assembly Bill 19, which allows colleges to waive tuition for first-time, full-time students.
"What we can talk about is spending now and cutting later, or filling the reserves and continuing our spending right along", Brown said.
Brown's budget does not reflect last year's federal tax changes out of Washington, which are expected to hit taxpayers in high-tax states like California the hardest.
Timothy P. White, chancellor of the 23-campus Cal State system, was more forceful in his criticism, calling the budget's proposal to increase revenues by $92 million "both concerning and surprising" since the system asked for a $293 million hike. CalPERS has gained more than $30 billion since July 1, giving it a portfolio worth more than $355 billion.
That potentially dark future Brown predicted is one he won't have to preside over; the 79-year-old governor will leave office after this fall's elections. To improve student achievement and transparency, the budget proposes requiring school districts to create a link between their local accountability plans and their budgets to show how this increased funding is being spent.
- A focus on "fix-it-first" investments to repair neighborhood roads, state highways and bridges ($2.8 billion).
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Assemblyman Jim Frazier, D-Solano, who is chairman of the Assembly Transportation Committee, is pleased with that particular move. Tom Berryhill (R-Modesto) said in a statement.
Another goal includes providing more funding for education.
"Supporting wildfire recovery and reducing fire risk must be top priorities in the budget", he said in a statement. "This is just the beginning of the dance", said state Sen. Legislative Democrats may not object to the governor putting $3.5 billion of that pot into the Rainy Day Fund to meet its constitutional target of 10 percent of the state's general fund. Education, Dodd noted, is one of those critical services. The senator recently introduced a bill to provide universal preschool to all 4-year-olds in California. We need to step up our investment in the next generation.
He said Brown's plan "could reverse any progress made in the last decade - diminishing student access, success, limiting degree attainment and depriving California's industries of skilled professionals". The Democratic governor projects California will have a $6.1 billion surplus but he wants to keep almost all of it in reserve for a future recession.
The good times have lawmakers airing plans to spend some of the surplus. "The governor's budget already sets a new record high of $132 billion in spending. In a flawless world, the surplus would be returned to taxpayers".
Brown's administration says the law put the state's two largest public pension systems, the California Public Employees' Retirement System and the California State Teachers' Retirement System, on a path to long-term stability.
The governor didn't ignore the soaring stock market and relatively strong employment figures, but said they don't detract from reasons to prepare for a downturn. What's out there is darkness - uncertainty, decline - and recession.