Gov. Jerry Brown proposed a $131.7 billion General Fund budget plan for 2018-19 on Wednesday that fills the state’s Rainy Day Fund to its constitutional target.
“California has faced ten recessions since World War II and we must prepare for the eleventh. Yes, we have had some very good years and program spending has increased steadily,” said Governor Brown in his budget letter to the Legislature. “Let’s not blow it now.”
In contrast to the $27 billion budget gap of 2011, the 2018 fiscal plan projects California will have $6.1 billion in extra cash. Brown proposed just $300 million in new spending next year with the rest going to reserves.
Senator Tom Berryhill (R-Modesto) said the surplus would be better used paying down the State’s pension debt.
"Governor Brown's budget only proves what Republicans have been saying all along: Taxes are too darn high. Instead of spending the significant surplus on new government programs that will only lead to even higher taxes in down years, let's at least put the money to good use by paying down pension debt, investing in local communities and protecting against economic downturns in the future,” said Berryhill.
Highlights of the Governor’s 2018-19 State Budget include:
— Increased Higher Education Spending: The budget proposes a total increase of $570 million (4 percent) for community colleges, including a new funding formula that encourages colleges to enroll underrepresented students and rewards colleges for improving students’ success in obtaining degrees and certificates. As the new formula is implemented, no district will receive less funding than currently provided. 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.
The budget increases state support for the University of California and the California State University by 3 percent, and proposes the creation of the first wholly online community college in California.
— Continuing Health Care Expansion: The budget provides funding to increase health care coverage to low-income Californians under the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA).
— Transportation Infrastructure: For 2018-19, the budget includes $4.6 billion in new transportation funding, which includes:
• A focus on “fix-it-first” investments to repair neighborhood roads, state highways and bridges ($2.8 billion).
• Making key investments in trade and commute corridors to support continued economic growth and implement a sustainable freight strategy ($556 million).
• Matching locally generated funds for high-priority transportation projects ($200 million).
• Investing in local passenger rail and public transit modernization and improvement ($721 million).
The full summary of the Governor’s budget proposal can be found at www.ebudget.ca.gov.