Governor Says His Revised Budget in May Will be “Fully Balanced”

Gov. Jerry Brown said April 5 he would offer a revised budget plan in May that balances – mainly through more than $13 billion in additional spending cuts.

Speaking to a Sacramento conference of the California Medical Association, the Democratic governor told the doctors the state was “facing a real challenge” but that despite stalled budget negotiations with Republicans, “breakdowns lead to breakthroughs.”

After his brief speech, Brown told reporters that everyone he talks to urges him not to make additional spending reductions.

“Everyone says don’t make the cuts,” Brown said. “(But) on May 14 I’ll put out a budget and that budget will be fully balanced.

Brown has proposed closing what he estimates is a $26.6 billion budget gap between revenues and spending commitments with cuts — $11.2 billion of which have already been enacted—and a five-year extension of various taxes scheduled to expire this year.

In a campaign pledge, Brown said he would submit any proposed tax increases to voters.

But GOP lawmakers have so far refused to provide the two votes in the Assembly and the Senate that are needed to place the issue on the ballot.

Brown has refused to divulge how he would close the budget gap without the increased revenue from the tax extension. But he has repeatedly described the additional cuts as harsh and draconian.

A February 10 letter from the Legislative Analyst requested by lawmakers outlines various actions that could be taken to close a $13.5 billion budget hole.

Brown has said the analyst’s proposed actions are “one path” and has not endorsed them.

One-third of the analyst’s reductions would fall on public schools — $4.6 billion.

Saying that they had borne the brunt of past budget cuts, Brown spared schools from major cuts in his January proposal.

The California State University system and the University of California, whose budgets have already been cut by $1 billion, could be cut by $1.1 billion more, the analyst says.

Increasing UC tuition by 7 percent and 10 for CSU students would reduce the impact of the cuts by $270 million, the analyst says. Reducing CSU enrollment by 5 percent would save $124 million.

Community college fees, already increased to $26 per unit by the Legislature, could climb to $66, a savings of $170 million.

Elsewhere, another $700 million could come from cutting state workers pay by 10 percent, another $100 million from allowing more oil drilling off the Santa Barbara coast and $400 million from a reduction in state money for transit and intercity rail.

Oddly, rather than focus on health care or other issues of more likely to interest doctors, Brown spent much of his apparently off-the-cuff remarks discussing legislation he signed April 4 diverting numerous non-violent offenders from state prison to county jails.

By incarcerating the offenders in county jails, Brown said the state will “get the same thing for about half the price.”

He joked about the state’s severe prison overcrowding:

“If you look at it from a hotel management point of view, there’s never an empty bed.”

Brown said the top two major challenges were closing the budget gap and finding a long-term solution to wheeling the state’s water to Southern California through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

“Other than that, I think its clear sailing.”



Filed under: Budget and Economy

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