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California Budget Deal Begins To Emerge

A view of the Capitol building in Sacramento.
Capital Public Radio
A view of the Capitol building in Sacramento.

Gov. Jerry Brown has convinced Democratic lawmakers to use his more conservative revenue projections. But Democrats will still get some of their top priorities, including pre-kindergarten and child care for thousands of low-income four-year-olds.

The California budget deal starting to take shape at the state Capitol includes more money for pre-kindergarten and child care programs, but not for higher education.

The agreement uses Brown’s more cautious revenue projections, rather than the higher estimates that many Democrats had hoped for. But Democratic lawmakers will still get money for some — not all — of their top priorities.

A key part of the deal increases spending on new early childhood education and child care programs by $250 million.

It adds 1,500 new child care slots for kids between zero and five years old. Separately, 7,500 low-income four-year-olds will be able to enroll in pre-kindergarten classes starting July 1st, with an additional 4,000 slots opening up in June of next year. Kids whose parents are working will get full-day child care outside of pre-kindergarten hours.

The budget also calls for increasing pre-kindergarten and child care slots in future years until all low-income four-year-olds are covered. However, this part of the agreement is not binding, because lawmakers cannot require future legislatures to adhere to the deal.

The UC and CSU will not receive any money beyond what Brown proposed in May unless revenues exceed a target, which would trigger an additional $50 million in one-time funding for each system.

Much of the budget deal is still not final. Still under discussion: how to spend revenues from California’s cap-and-trade program; and whether to put more money than the governor wants into welfare and in-home care programs.

A vote on part — but not all — of the deal is expected on Sunday, the Legislature’s constitutional deadline to pass a budget.

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