Gov. Brown Plans To Tackle California’s ‘Wall Of Debt’ As Its Budget Surges To Record High
LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Gov. Jerry Brown Thursday addressed details of the state budget for the new fiscal year, which provides for new spending on schools, health care, and social services, among other things.
Brown spoke about the nearly $155 billion budget proposal, which also emphasizes repaying the state’s multi-billion dollar debt, at an afternoon news conference in downtown Los Angeles.
Under Brown’s proposal, spending in the general fund would increase 8 percent over this year to nearly $107 billion.
The budget would increase spending on K-12 schools and community colleges, and give more funding to the University of California and California State University systems.
“After more than a decade of incredible deficits and fiscal instability, California is now stable and poised to take advantage of the recovery and the tens of thousands of new jobs that are being created in California every month. For that reason, we can spend billions of dollars for California’s schools,” Brown said.
The governor also wants the state to pay down its $11 billion debt, $6 billion of which would go to schools.
The proposed budget would also keep $1.6 billion in a reserve fund in case of future economic hardships.
Overall, the Golden State owes about $25 billion in deferred payments and loans that the governor referred to as “a wall of debt.”
California has about $355 billion in long-term liabilities, including $217.8 billion in unfunded pension costs to retired state employees and $64.6 billion in deferred maintenance, according to the governor’s office.
Senate Republican leader Bob Huff, R-Diamond Bar, said it’s not a bad budget except for $250 million Brown wants to spend on the bullet train.
“I’m not happy that the budget funds the faltering high-speed rail system by shifting the cap-and-trade tax on carbon emissions which are paid by our still-struggling private sector businesses,” he said.
Some social services advocates charge Brown is shortchanging their programs.
“There are still millions of families in California that are struggling and the governor is failing to address the needs of those millions of people,” Vanessa Aramayo, the executive director of the California Partnership, said.
Lawmakers must pass a spending plan by June 15.
Officials expect a $4.2 billion surplus by the end of June.
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