California Gov. Jerry Brown released his last state budget proposal Friday, kicking off a month of negotiations with the Legislature about how to spend a growing budget surplus.The Democratic governor last pegged the surplus at $6.1 billion in January and proposed spending almost none of it, preferring to direct all but $300 million to reserves. Since then revenue during the busy April tax-filing season came in even higher than expected. Brown has consistently warned that California is riding a wave of economic growth and the budgetary good times will eventually end. He’s generally resisted new ongoing spending on social services that he says can’t be sustained.
But he’s facing pressure to boost funding on a wide variety of legislative priorities including higher education, child care and firefighting.Assembly Democrats said Monday they’ll push for a $1 billion boost in spending on health care, including $250 million to provide state-funded health coverage to low-income California residents living in the country illegally through the Medi-Cal program. Their proposal would also provide money to offset monthly premium costs for people who buy their own insurance coverage.
Assembly Democrats have also proposed expanding the earned-income tax credit to help the working poor.