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Jerry Brown to release California budget proposal

EducationPoliticsBudgets and BudgetingCrime, Law and JusticeJustice SystemJerry Brown

SACRAMENTO -- Gov. Jerry Brown will release his revised spending plan Tuesday morning, kicking off weeks of intense budget negotiations free of the deep deficits of years past but full of stark policy disagreements between the governor and his fellow Democrats in the Legislature.

The governor's budget proposal, which is scheduled to be released at 10 a.m., will map out wide-ranging changes to schools, universities and healthcare. With billions of dollars in the balance, each topic has already proved controversial. 

Lawmakers are required to approve a budget by June 15. Brown will have until the end of June to sign the budget so it can take effect July 1.

California's finances have been bolstered by a surge in tax revenue, and state coffers hold $4.5 billion more than administration officials had projected, according to the latest figures from the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office.

The state's complex rules for education funding are expected to funnel almost all the extra money into schools and community colleges.

“It’s how the formula was intended to work," said Dennis Meyers of the California School Boards Assn. "This is money that’s owed to schools.”

The biggest battles in the budget will involve Brown facing off with fellow Democrats, who control at least two-thirds of the seats in both the Senate and the Assembly, giving them a veto-proof supermajority.

Brown wants to change how schools are funded by sending more money to districts with poor children or students learning English. Senate Democrats have floated a competing proposal to spread funding more widely across the state.

The governor is also at odds with Democrats over how much the state should spend on providing healthcare to poor Californians and how many new patients should be added to the state's insurance rolls. Brown has said he'll be cautious about overextending the state's resources, warning that "we don't want to bite off any more than we have to chew."

Brown is also tangling with California's public university systems. The governor has pushed a proposal to tie increases in state funding to specific benchmarks like improving graduation rates.

The plan has been criticized by university officials as overly simplistic and inadequate, and lawmakers have expressed skepticism in hearings at the Capitol.

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Twitter: @chrismegerian

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