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Legislature Approves State Budget, Which Now Awaits Governor’s Signature

June 19, 2017

On Thursday (June 15), California legislators approved the 2017-18 state budget, which now awaits Governor Brown’s signature.

The Sacramento Bee reported:

California lawmakers passed a spending plan for the coming fiscal year Thursday, meeting the state’s budget approval deadline with a $183.2 billion package that raises school funding, expands a tax credit for the working poor and gives the Capitol a greater say over University of California finances.

The main budget bill passed the Senate 28-10 and the Assembly 59-20 several hours later.

Thursday’s votes come nearly a week after the Democrat-controlled Legislature’s budget-writing panel forwarded a plan reflecting agreement with the Brown administration on a range of issues. A final pact followed a few days later when lawmakers and Brown came to terms on how to spend revenue from a 2016 ballot measure that raised tobacco taxes.

“This is a budget for all Californians,” said Senate Pro Tem Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles. “It protects our state’s fiscal stability while also making historic investments in education and our state’s infrastructure, both which are critical to keep our economy moving and growing.”

Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, D-Paramount, said the plan “does things for people, not to people. With this budget, we will protect what we have gained and we will persist in moving forward.”

Minority Republicans were unable to stop the budget’s approval, but slammed its contents and the process.

Senate Republican Leader Patricia Bates criticized the budget as the “biggest in California’s history.”

School spending would total $74.5 billion in the coming budget year, up 4.2 percent – about $3.1 billion – from the current year. The plan allocates another $50 million to the state-funded After School and Education and Safety program. And it includes $200 million to continue preschool and child care provider rate increases included in last year’s budget pact.

The package increased University of California funding by $131.2 million, and sets a target for UC to enroll 1,500 more students in the coming year. It reflects Brown’s proposal to hold back $50 million until the system carries out recommendations of a recent state audit that criticized the UC Office of the President.

The California State University would receive an additional $162.3 million. CSU leaders, though, have to find space for students denied entry to their preferred campus or program.

Under the plan, the state would end June 2018 with $8.5 billion in the voter-approved rainy-day reserve and another $1.4 billion in the state’s regular reserve.

California Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) and Senate Budget Chair Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles) released the following statements regarding the Senate’s passage of the 2017-18 state budget.

When Governor Brown and legislative Democrats announced on June 13 that they had reached an agreement on the budget, Brown said:

“This budget keeps California on a sound fiscal path and continues to support struggling families and make investments in our schools. We’ve come together on this balanced and progressive budget and I’m confident that we can do the same to extend our critical cap-and-trade program,” said Governor Brown.

The Governor’s press office also offered this assessment of the budget’s impact on education:

Funding for K-14 schools is expected to grow by $3.1 billion over the revised 2016-17 level to $74.5 billion in 2017-18 – an increase of $1.0 billion since January and $27.3 billion over six years, or 58 percent. Schools would receive an additional $1.4 billion next year for the Local Control Funding Formula, which would increase the formula’s implementation to 97 percent complete. The budget also includes a total of $14.5 billion General Fund for higher education, with additional funds provided in the next year to expand capacity for California students at the state’s public institutions, create guided pathways for students to earn degrees and credentials and keep the costs of attendance low for students and their families. Additionally, it holds the University of California accountable for implementing needed reforms to its cost structure so that the system remains sustainable over the long term.

Sources:  Sacramento Bee, Governor’s Press Office, EdBrief staff.

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