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Jerry Brown reveals new budget plan at Capitol

Gov. Jerry Brown unveils his revised $107.8-billion state budget proposal
Brown's latest budget plan targets pension liabilities, increased healthcare costs for the poor, and debt

Gov. Jerry Brown detailed his revised $107.8-billion state budget proposal at the Capitol on Tuesday morning, laying out his plans to address California's mounting pension liabilities, increased costs of providing healthcare to the poor and paying off debt.

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FOR THE RECORD

May 13, 7:37 p.m.: An earlier version of this post said that under Gov. Brown's proposed budget, contributions to the teachers retirement fund would increase to more than $5 billion annually by 2012. As this corrected version notes, the year in question is 2020.

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The blueprint includes $1 billion more in general fund spending than his preliminary proposal in January. There's also an additional $44.3 billion in spending from dedicated funds and $4 billion in bond funds.

"This is taking a big bite out of our long-term obligations,'' Brown told reporters in his Capitol office.

Brown acknowledged that the Democratic-controlled Legislature and outside interest groups, are pushing to restore funding to social welfare programs and other priorities that were slashed during the recession. However, the governor cautioned that overspending has caused deficits for 11 of the last 15 years.

“There are many good ideas, in healthcare, in schooling, the environment, in prison reform, in court expansion, but we only have so much money. We do live within the revenues given,'' Brown said.

California's finances have been buoyed by higher-than-expected tax revenue. However, the state is also facing a variety of increased costs, including heavy enrollment in Medi-Cal, the healthcare program for the poor, and a heftier bill for public pensions.

Lawmakers are also seeking to restore funding to courts and social services like child care, which suffered budget cuts during the recession. More battles are brewing over cap-and-trade funding, which Brown wants for the bullet train project, and home care for the elderly and the disabled.

Brown has already secured a bipartisan deal on one weighty financial issue this year, a proposed constitutional amendment for strengthening the state's reserve fund and paying off debt. If approved by the Legislature, as expected, it will be placed on the ballot in November.

Now he's seeking another deal on addressing the $73.7-billion shortfall in the teacher pension fund. The gap has been growing by $22 million a day, according to pension officials, and the fund could run dry in three decades.

In his revised budget plan, Brown seeks to increase contributions to the teachers retirement fund by $450 million, money that would come from the state, school districts and from teacher contributions. That contribution would increase to more than $5 billion annually by 2020.

The Legislature is required to pass a budget by June 15.

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
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