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California budget will be balanced and on time: Democrats accept governor’s conservative revenue projection
June 12, 2013, 05:00 AM By Bill Silverfarb Daily Journal staff
Freshman Assemblyman Kevin Mullin, D-South San Francisco, will help the state adopt a balanced budget at its earliest date since 1986 if the Legislature approves Gov. Jerry Brown’s $96.4 billion spending plan Friday.

Brown announced a compromise yesterday that anticipates $3.2 billion less in revenue than the state Legislative Analyst’s Office projects.

“This budget takes some very positive steps for the state of California. Even though we did the fiscally responsible thing and went with the governor’s lower revenue estimates and left a significant reserve, we were able to do some very positive things,” Mullin wrote the Daily Journal in an email yesterday after Brown announced the budget compromise at a Sacramento press conference.

Back in 2003, however, state Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, was also a freshman assemblyman when Arnold Schwarzenegger was ready to claim the governor’s seat in a recall election.

Within hours of taking office in November 2003, Schwarzenegger stuck to his campaign promise to cut taxes and signed an executive order to repeal the tripling of the state’s vehicle license fee.

That move has cost the state about $6 billion annually in revenue or about $50 billion in the years since Schwarzenegger signed the repeal, Leno told the Daily Journal yesterday.

“He did a lot of damage,” Leno said about Schwarzenegger.

This year’s budget, Leno said, will pay down the state’s debt by $4 billion, increase per-pupil investment in education and provide an additional $63 million in revenue to the state’s court system compared to last year.

“It’s the rosiest budget we’ve seen,” Leno said.

By accepting Brown’s lower revenue projections, the state can restore some of the cuts made in previous years to state programs and pay down the debt even more if the LAO figures are correct and the $3.2 billion in projected revenue does materialize, said Leno, who is chair of the legislative budget committee.

Mullin is pleased the governor’s budget will restore some funding for basic dental care for the poor and some child-care funding for working families.

“We are also going to keep university tuition hikes in check and provide additional financial aid with ... [a] middle-class scholarship program,” Mullin wrote in the email.

The first-year state lawmaker, however, is not pleased with how the Legislature has dealt with the dissolution of hundreds of redevelopment agencies across the state in recent years to help the state trim its deficit.

“I am disappointed that the Legislature failed to address an ongoing inequity which resulted from the redevelopment dissolution. Once again some cities and counties, including San Mateo County, will have their pockets picked as a result of transfers of local dollars to pay for state obligations. I sought to address this unfairness in this year’s budget and will keep pursuing this issue until it is resolved,” Mullin wrote in the email.

Mullin sat on an Assembly budget subcommittee where he was able to help increase funding to expedite filing fees at the Secretary of State’s Office and extra money to assist the federal government in processing disability claims for California veterans as well as money for County Veteran Service Officers for outreach to veterans to provide eligible services.

Leno and fellow state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco/San Mateo, praised state voters for the passage of Proposition 30 in November, which adds about $6 billion in revenue to the state’s coffers.

“Thanks to the passage of Proposition 30 and our recovering economy, California’s budget is in far better shape than it’s been in years. This budget will start to undo the damage done to our schools and social services in recent years and points toward a brighter future,” Yee wrote the Daily Journal in an email.

If the budget is approved Friday, it will be the earliest the Legislature has passed a balanced budget since 1986. In 2009, however, a budget was passed in February that assumed voters would approve tax increases in a May election. Voters rejected the tax increases, however, and the Legislature made some major amendments to the budget before it was finally approved in July. It was the year Schwarzenegger used emergency furlough power and IOUs were issued to state workers.

This year’s budget has been called education friendly by lawmakers.

“I’m pleased that we’re restoring education funding. San Mateo and Santa Clara county schools will get millions of additional dollars in the coming years,” state Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, wrote the Daily Journal in an email.

The state’s public colleges will also have hundreds of millions of dollars restored to their budgets, Hill wrote.

“We’re also creating a middle-class scholarship program for families making less than $150,000, which will offset tuition costs by up to 40 percent,” Hill wrote in the email.

silverfarb@smdailyjournal.com

(650) 344-5200 ext. 106


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