The California Budget: A Primer

California lawmakers approved a $183.2 billion budget Thursday, an all-time record. Cal Matters has an excellent breakdown of California’s spending plan here. In the meantime, some highlights:

EUCATION DOMINATES THE SPENDING PLAN

Public schools command one-third of the overall budget. K-12 students and community colleges will get $74.5 billion, a $3 billion increase from this year.

The plan also assumes another 1,500 students will enter in-state higher education this year and calls for $131.2 million and $162.3 million for the University of California and California State University respectively.

HEALTH CARE COMMANDS THE SECOND LARGEST SHARE OF BUDGET DOLLARS

The Legislature has approved $105.6 billion for health care, the second largest slice of California state tax dollars after public education. Payments to physicians who treat Medi-Cal patients will also increase as a result of the recent tobacco tax.

TRANSPORTATION IS GETTING A $2.8 BILLION BOOST

Speaking of new taxes, most of the money raised from a new 12-cent-per-gallon tax on gasoline will go toward street, road, and transit overhauls.

Interestingly, that very tax also gave way to one of the most controversial provisions, which would change the recall petition process. It is a direct response to the recall effort against Senator Josh Newsman (D-Fullerton) which began after his vote for the much maligned tax. The practical effect of this provision would be to stretch the effort against Newman out, perhaps long enough to prevent it from going anywhere. That’s important because, if the recall against Newman were to prevail, it would break the Democrats’ legislative supermajority.

PUBLIC EMPLOYEE PENSIONS WILL GOBBLE UP MORE STATE DOLLARS THAN EVER BEFORE

Under this budget, contributions to CalPERS and CalSTRS will hit $8 billion. On top of that, Gov. Brown plans to borrow $6 billion from a state agency surplus fund for an early payment to CalPERS this summer. Finalization of that plan is expected this summer.

COUNTIES BREATHE A SIGH OF RELIEF AFTER IN-HOME CARE SERVICES FIX

California’s counties were practically apoplectic after the January budget proposal, which would have shifted responsibility for in-home supportive services (IHSS) to counties. But an IHSS trailer bill will mitigate the fiscal impacts to counties by reducing their overall contributions for IHSS costs.

You can read more about the budget’s impact on California’s local governments via the California State Association of Counties and the League of California Cities. Their summaries also touch on some important provisions regarding jails and cannabis, plus the significant changes coming to the State Board of Equalization.


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