Gov. Jerry Brown’s Plan to Take $744 Million Worth of Bricks Out of the “Wall of Debt”

In taking a chip out of what he calls a $35 billion “Wall of Debt,” Gov. Jerry Brown’s revised budget would speed repayment of $744 million raked off of various funds whose cash comes from fees and not general tax revenue.

When he rejected the Schwarzenegger administration’s plan to sell 11 state office buildings, the Democratic governor borrowed $830 million from 48 pots outside the state’s cash-starved general fund. Higher than anticipated tax revenue – an estimated $6.6 billion over the next 16 months – now allows Brown the luxury of paying off some of the loans and transfers.

Several of the larger repayments – a total of nearly $172 million come from the Beverage Container Recycling Fund which Schwarzenegger and lawmakers drew on to help balance budgets prior to Brown’s November 2010 election.

Another Schwarzenegger era loan — $80 million from the Electronic Waste Recovery and Recycling Fund, which pays for efforts to do just what the name says, would also be repaid under Brown’s proposal.

Brown also returns $90 million to the Off-Highway Vehicle Trust Fund a loan that Republican lawmakers wanted restored on their list of budget demands.

The Energy Commission is returned $88.6 million, more than $64 million of it from the Renewable Resources Trust Fund which helps pay for the commission’s efforts to champion alternative power sources.

The fund, contains the nickels charged to recycle soft drinks a, beers and other

Among the borrowing Brown did after shelving the state office building sale that he wants to pay off early is $59 million from the “California High Cost Fund-B Administrative Committee Fund at the Public Utilities Commission which is generated by a surcharge on telephone customers.

The fund pays for the costs of the committee that oversees this program and gives subsidies to AT&T, Verizon, Frontier Communications and Cox Communications in an attempt to keep the local telephone service to residential customers in high-cost areas more affordable.

The surcharge on consumers to pay for the program was reduced from 1.3 percent to .5 percent in January 2008, according to report by the PUC to the Legislature.

Brown also would pay back $20 million of the $75 million he borrowed from the Hospital Building fund. That pot of money helps ensure new or renovated medical facilities meet seismic safety standards.

Also tapped by Brown earlier this year to help balance the general fund were more than 15 of the regulatory boards and bureaus housed in the state Department of Consumer Affairs, including the Acupuncture Board to the Bureau of Home Furnishings and Thermal Insulation. At $17 million the Board of Registered Nursing gave up the most.

In his revised budget, Brown proposes returning $173,000 to the state Accountancy Board.



Filed under: Budget and Economy

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