Brown, Legislature differ sharply on California budget
Gov. Jerry Brown sees a budget deficit and an urgent need for spending cuts.
Legislative leaders see a surplus with room to comfortably increase expenditures.
Always at odds when it comes to the budget, the Democratic governor and the Democratic Legislature are particularly far apart this year as they embark on six months of spending negotiations amid uncertainty about federal funding under the incoming administration of President-elect Donald Trump.
Brown staked out a conservative opening position Tuesday, warning of a potential $1.6 billion budget deficit and proposing a spending plan that keeps general fund expenditures flat at $122.5 billion. Since costs rise every year, his plan would require cuts to keep pace, and he suggested eliminating billions of dollars allocated to education, state building construction, subsidized housing, college scholarships and child care providers.
He seeks to boost the state's reserve fund to $7.9 billion — up from $6.7 billion in the current budget year — to help soften what he warned is an inevitable recession after 10 years of economic recovery.
"You've got to save your money or you're going to lose the farm," Brown said, acknowledging that he expected "some shoving back and forth" with lawmakers as a final budget compromise is negotiated by June.
Democratic legislative leaders gave Brown's budget a tepid reception. Acknowledging the need for caution in the face of federal uncertainty, they nonetheless rejected Brown's proposed cuts to college scholarships and child care while insisting they will still push to increase spending on social welfare programs.
"This is not a time to eliminate important programs that lift up the middle class," Assemblyman Kevin McCarty, D-Sacramento, said in a statement.