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California budget

Gov. Jerry Brown offers more cash in his new budget, jabs lawmakers who follow Trump's lead

Gov. Jerry Brown unveils his revised state budget on Thursday at the state Capitol. (John Myers / Los Angeles Times)
Gov. Jerry Brown unveils his revised state budget on Thursday at the state Capitol. (John Myers / Los Angeles Times)

Although California Gov. Jerry Brown sent legislators a budget plan on Thursday with a surprisingly new optimism on tax revenues, he warned of major cuts under national healthcare changes.

And he specifically called out Republican members of Congress from California for voting for a plan that hurt their constituents.

"I really don't understand why those people in swing districts are following the dictates of Donald Trump," Brown told reporters at the state Capitol. "They're going to have to do penance for it."

The governor's revised budget raised revenue projections from his January plan by $2.5 billion, historically the kind of news that has offered a shot of adrenaline into efforts by lawmakers to expand state spending.

Read Gov. Brown’s revised state budget for 2017-18 >>

Where Brown projected a $1.6-billion deficit when he proposed his January budget, the improved tax collection has shrunk the overall shortfall to $400 million, according to the governor's budget staff.

Still, Brown urged lawmakers not to view the more upbeat forecast as a reason to raise their expectations on what he believes will be a weaker economy in the near future.

"Make no doubt about it," he said, "cuts are coming over the next few years."

Even so, the updated budget proposes to fully fund higher salaries for child care providers — a shift from Brown's winter plan to cancel those new payments. It also scales back his effort to cut state funding for a program that streamlined health services for seniors and low-income families. That change marks a victory for county governments, which otherwise would have had to shoulder almost $600 million in new spending by next summer.

The governor's January budget sought to cancel the state's participation in a 2012 program, the Coordinated Care Initiative, which allows Medi-Cal, Medicare and in-home support services to be offered through a single delivery system.

The revised budget will leave $400 million of the program's cost with the state and gradually shift costs to counties in the future. Local officials said their budgets couldn't handle the total extra costs in a single year.

The new budget plan assumes repair of the Oroville Dam's smashed flood spillways, but doesn't yet provide money. State officials have put repairs at $275 million. Both the main and emergency spillways of the Butte County dam were damaged so severely in February by water rapidly flowing out of the reservoir that there was concern the structures might rupture. That danger led to the brief evacuation of almost 200,000 residents.

State officials told lawmakers last month they intend to finish repairs by Nov. 1, in time for next winter's rains.

Brown, who stuck to his tradition of relying on a series of large poster-board sized charts to make his point about fiscal caution, said California's roller-coaster revenue system will undoubtedly again plunge the state budget into deep deficits. And the state's oldest governor invoked the sweep of time to remind reporters of previous bleak years.

"One of the things you do when you’re 79 is you think a lot about the past," he said.


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