In a state historically late delivering budgets, the California legislature voted Tuesday night to approve an $86 billion budget that closes a $10 billion shortfall using a mix of cuts to state universities and welfare programs, deferring payments to schools and making what some critics labeled “rosy assumptions” for $4 billion in additional revenue.
Democratic majorities in both the state Senate and Assembly took a detour around stubborn Republicans, who provided zero votes in support.
Brown did meet his goal to have a spending plan in place before July 1, the start of the state’s fiscal year.
Much is riding on those $4 billion in “assumptions.” If that revenue doesn’t materialize, school spending could face significantly deeper cuts next year. Already among the hardest hit in the new budget, the University of California and Cal State systems face about a 23% in funding cuts. Both systems will lose $150 million dollars and could face deeper cuts in December. These cuts will force both university systems to increase their tuitions as well as the Community College System.
Marilyn Cohen, president of Envision Capital Management in Los Angeles, said the budget package’s revenue expectation was risky and reminded her of the budget tricks Brown said he would strive to avoid. “I like to call it the ‘abracadabra’ budget,” Cohen said. “Abracadabra and the $4 billion magically materializes.”
Earlier this month, Brown vetoed an earlier budget submitted by Democrats, which fell far short of being balanced and took too many legal risks.
Stubborn Republican lawmakers, who fought Brown tooth and nail on numerous facets of the budget, sharply criticized the package. Several Republicans lamented that what could have been a bipartisan budget was lost due to a lack of Democratic flexibility on spending caps, and changes to touchstones such as public-sector pensions and environmental regulations. -Geisel
Additional sources: Reuters, Tribune Weekly Chronicle (Holtville)