Brown Proposes Record $115.3 Billion Budget For California
Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday proposed a record $115.3 billion California spending plan that will send more money to public schools, freeze in-state undergraduate tuition and establish a new state tax credit for the working poor.
The Democratic governor revised his budget upward from his $113 billion January proposal to reflect $6.7 billion in new revenues since January after tax returns came in higher than expected.
Though he is maintaining a cautious approach to spending, Brown responded to criticism that he hasn't done enough to help California's poor by proposing a $380 million earned income tax credit that his administration said would help as many as 825,000 families and up to 2 million Californians.
"It's just a straight deliverance of funding to people who are working very hard and are earning very little money so in that sense I think it does a lot of good things," Brown said of the tax credit.
The average tax credit would be $460 a year with a maximum credit of $2,653 for families with three or more children, to complement the federal tax credit program. It would be available to individuals with incomes of less than $6,580, or up to $13,870 for families with three or more dependents.
It is similar to a plan previously announced by Assembly Democrats, who have made anti-poverty measures a top priority this year.
Brown also reached agreement with University of California President Janet Napolitano on an in-state undergraduate tuition freeze for at least two years in exchange for an extra $436 million in state funding for the university system to offset pension costs.
The 10-campus system could still raise tuition for non-residents and students earning professional degrees.
Brown's updated budget maintains his January plan to increase the university's $3 billion base budget by $120 million, or 4 percent, and does not include any new money to expand in-state enrollment.
The governor's new plan reflects higher-than-expected tax revenues, most of which by law go to public schools and filling California's rainy day account. The new proposal includes $68.4 billion in 2015-16 for the state's school funding guarantee, up from $65.7 billion in January.
Fellow Democrats and advocates intend to continue pressing Brown to agree to expanding child care, health care and social programs. Some are pushing to restore pay that was cut during the recession for providers who treat Medi-Cal patients. Senate Democrats have a proposal to expand health care for immigrants who are in the country illegally.