As Gov. Jerry Brown unveiled his 2014-15 state budget proposal on Thursday, reactions across California varied as the $106.8 billion budget will see increased state spending.
Locally, Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen (R-Modesto) says that there is “plenty to like, and plenty to dislike.”
“I am pleased he plans to use some of this year’s surplus to reduce long-term debt and to make education a priority by investing in higher education and by paying back the money owed to schools after years of cash deferrals,” said Olsen. “However, beyond that, I wish he had allocated more to reserves. A $1.6 billion deposit into the Rainy Day Fund — a mere one percent of the total budget — is simply inadequate. Our cities would be bankrupt by now if they operated with such low reserves.”
Although Olsen believes the proposal is a good start, she will continue to urge Brown and Democrat lawmakers to “make a stronger commitment to building a healthy reserve this year.”
Olsen wasn’t the only one pleased by with the governor’s allocations to higher education.
California State University Chancellor Timothy White, who visited Turlock’s CSU Stanislaus recently, expressed great appreciation for the $142.2 million budget allocation for the CSU system.
“We applaud the governor for sustaining his commitment to the multi-year funding plan for the California State University,” said White. “This investment enables us to serve California’s future economic growth, and social mobility for our populace, through affordable access to high quality education and degrees.”
The new debt service framework for some facilities, as outlined in the proposal, will provide the University system with the improved flexibility and tools to manage debt service obligations, and address critical maintenance, repair and infrastructure needs throughout the system.
Additionally, the governor’s budget plan addresses a policy change to the Cal Grant program to stabilize financial support for students, aiming to keep a CSU education financially accessible for ongoing students who experience significant income fluctuations. In previous years, thousands of students in the CSU system have been at high-risk for losing eligibility for the Cal Grant program.
The proposed budget will enable the CSU system to improve existing programs and services, and maintain tuition at the current rate for the fourth consecutive year.
Local legislator Senator Anthony Cannella (R-Ceres) also took note of the governor’s commitment to education, not only in higher education, but in K-12 spending as well. With an increase of nearly $4 billion, K-12 education is budgeted at $45.2 billion, while eliminating all remaining debt owed to public schools from the general fund.
“I appreciate the governor’s continued commitment to strengthening our education system,” said Cannella. “The Local Control Funding Formula helps even the playing field for students. Education is key to the future of our state.”
Cannella said that he was pleased that Brown understands the need to continually pay down the state debt, and is taking a measured approach to spending after years of budget deficits.
“As we look at budget surpluses, we need to build a robust rainy day fund and make sure that we do not use it on new programs that require ongoing spending,” said Cannella. “It is important to recognize that state revenue is volatile. We would be doing the state a disservice by spending the surplus after years of deficits.”
In his letter addressed to members of the California Legislature, Brown said that the budget will “fund the expansion of health care coverage to millions of Californians and avoid the early release of serious and violent offenders, while taking important steps to reduce future crime.”
To view the Governor’s Proposed 2014-15 Budget, visit www.ebudget.ca.gov.