Facing a $26.6 billion deficit, both houses of the California Legislature approved the main budget bill last week, but will not send the legislation to Gov. Jerry Brown until a remaining $12.6 billion deficit can be broached.
The main budget and 15 trailer bills contain about $14 billion in cuts, but balancing the budget depends on passing two contentious measures proposed by Gov. Jerry Brown – a temporary extension of higher taxes, which would go before voters in June and eliminating all redevelopment agencies statewide, directing $1.7 billion from local governments to the state.
Passing those cuts will require Republicans to cross party lines.
The California Republican Party has voted to oppose any tax extensions, new taxes or tax increases, regardless of concessisions from Brown. Most Republican senators are touting the party line, but a group of five known as the “GOP 5” – including State Sen. Anthony Cannella (R—Ceres) – have said they would support the plan if Brown agrees to regulatory and pension reform, as well as a cap on state spending.
“To be clear, our work is not yet done; we must take swift action to address the structural problems that caused our state’s massive deficit in the first place,” Cannella said. “In order to get our state back on track, we must act immediately to enact pension reform, regulatory reform and a real cap on state spending. Only then will we be able to get our state’s fiscal house in order, create jobs and grow our economy.”
Thus far, no common ground has been found, but Brown’s office says work is ongoing to bring tax extensions before voters on June 7.
Deep cuts will affect Californians
While work is yet to be done, the cuts already agreed to will change the face of education, the prison system, welfare, Medi-Cal and libraries.
“Today’s votes were not easy, but they reflect the same difficult spending cuts families, small businesses and communities all across California have had to make in this tough economy,” said Cannella on March 17.
The approved budget will cut $500 million from each the University of California and California State University budgets. Community college students will see a $10 per unit cost increase, to $36 per unit.
Tens of thousands of nonviolent state prisoners without prior convictions will be sent from state prisons to county jails, cutting costs to the state.
The state’s CalWORKs welfare to work program will provide 8 percent smaller grants, and parents will only be able to receive funding for four years rather than five. Children will begin to receive less money if parents remain in CalWORKs for more than five years, and 11 and 12 year old children will not receive state-supported child care.
Medi-Cal customers will begin paying for services, from $5 for check-ups to $200 for a two day hospital stay. Healthy Families premiums and co-pays for children will increase, and state reimbursements to Medi-Cal providers will be cut.
The budget will also force closures at unidentified California State Parks. Parks will be selected for closure based on visitor counts and historical significance.
An accounting measure will redirect funds from local transit. Also, early childhood development and mental health funding will be slashed, and local library funding will be cut in half.
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