Gov. Jerry Brown, lawmakers push closer to budget deal

California budget deadline approaches as lawmakers, Gov. Jerry Brown continue negotiating

With only days left to hammer out a deal on the state budget, legislative leaders say they're close to a final agreement.

"We've still got some details to flesh out," said Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins (D-San Diego). "We feel pretty good about where we are right now."

She added, "We've having the widest discussion and we're narrowing down on the details."

Senate leader Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) said he "feels very good about the progress."

"We're going to make some good, solid investments in kids, in infrastructure, and in some other key areas," he said.

The deadline for lawmakers to pass a budget is June 15. A joint committee responsible for finalizing the state's spending plan has yet to make decisions on the majority of hot-button issues, and neither Atkins nor Steinberg would discuss specifics on what the spending plan would include.

Capitol sources said negotiations over the weekend helped push parties closer to a deal, but that several issues remain unresolved. 

California's improving economy has pumped more revenue than expected into state accounts this year, and the cushion has allowed Brown and lawmakers to begin addressing some long-term financial issues.

That includes approving a constitutional amendment to strengthen California's rainy-day fund and protect the state from future recessions; the measure will be on the ballot in November. There's also an ongoing effort to address the approximately $74-billion shortfall in the teacher pension fund.

Legislative leaders have been pushing for more state spending than the governor originally proposed, including preschool for poor children and more funding for courts.

Meanwhile, the governor wants to secure new funding for bullet train construction, using revenue from polluter fees.

Another point of contention has been home care for low-income elderly and disabled residents. Brown wants to cap the number of hours caregivers can work to avoid paying them overtime, as required by new federal regulations.

Advocates say the governor's proposal would throw the program into disarray and make it more difficult for recipients to get the care they need.

Follow @chrismegerian for more updates on California government and politics.

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