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California Legislature Approves $156 Billion Budget

Democrats are lauding the passage of California’s $156 billion budget while Republicans say state spending is becoming excessive.

The California Legislature beat its budget deadline by about six hours on Sunday. The Assembly and Senate both approved a $156 billion spending plan, $108 billion of that makes up the state’s General Fund.

Democratic Sen. Mark Leno acknowledged that is the largest General Fund budget in California history. But he says it puts more money into state reserves and pays down debt.

“It returns billions of deferred dollars to our school districts and pays down hundreds of millions in mandates owed to our school districts,” Leno says. “(It) seriously attends to both of our unfunded liabilities at CalPERS and CalSTRS.”

Democratic Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner touted the budget’s large investment in early child care and education in over a decade.

“It sets the path for pre-school for all of California’s 4-year-olds and makes significant improvements in child care quality and availability,” she says.

Senate Minority Leader Bob Huff says Republicans agreed with more funding for education and paying down debt. But he says there are a number of things his party would have done differently if it were in charge.

“A Republican budget would spend less on new government programs. It would pay off more of the existing budget debt and state liabilities,” he says. “It would be more fiscally responsible and we would make sure California does not return to the budget deficits and fiscal crisis.”

Assemblyman Jeff Gorell blasted Democrats for allocating $250 million form Cap and Trade revenues for High speed Rail. He says the project has already suffered several mortal blows.

“And yet, by continuing to be insistent upon appropriating state and rate payer money toward this failed project, it seems like this legislative body and the governor are trying to stand up and say that this is merely a flesh wound,” Gorell says. “This is not. High Speed rail is dead.”

The budget will now go to Gov. Jerry Brown for his signature.

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