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Raises for Women Survive as Panel Cuts State Budget

Times Staff Writer

Legislative budget negotiators whacked substantial amounts from their proposed $35-billion-plus state budget Thursday but left enough to boost community college spending by $90 million and provide female state employees with an extra $31.5 million in salary increases as part of a comparable-worth pay package.

The six members of a two-house conference committee, wrapping up key spending items as they neared completion of their work on the proposed 1985-86 budget, approved 7.5% pay raises for state employees, an amount halfway between the 6.5% recommended by Gov. George Deukmejian and the 8.5% budgeted by the Senate.

Budget negotiators also attempted to clamp a lid on soaring costs associated with solar and energy tax credits, appropriating a flat $125 million. Estimates are that without the cap, which some predict will be challenged legally, costs of the tax credits could be $250 million.

The comparable-worth proposal was approved on a 4-2 vote, with the two Republicans on the two-house conference committee opposing the measure. It was about half the amount budgeted last month by the Senate, but still likely will be vetoed by Deukmejian.

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The Republican governor last year vetoed a similar comparable-worth proposal, although he provided additional pay raises in his budget package for employees working in jobs traditionally held by women.

Needed to Close Gap

Proponents say that the funds are needed to close a roughly 20% pay gap said to exist between jobs dominated by women and those held mostly by men.

In other action, the budget negotiators made a series of cuts to bring the legislative budget more in line with the level of spending that Deukmejian has said he will accept.

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The conference committee began the day saying that it needed to cut about $650 million from the Senate-approved budget to avoid a veto. Assemblyman John Vasconcellos (D-Santa Clara) estimated that the committee was able to cut about $150 million during the morning session alone. The goal is to bring the proposed budget reserve up to the $1-billion level sought by the governor. At the start of the day Thursday, the legislative budget contained a $392-million reserve.

Hope to Finish by Today

Legislators hope to finish work on the budget by today, then present it to the Assembly and Senate for votes next week. They are required by the state Constitution to present the governor with a budget by June 15 to give him time to make vetoes and put the budget in place by the start of the 1985-86 fiscal year on July 1.

Most of the big cuts came in support for elementary and high school programs.

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Trimmed from the budget was a $46.1-million appropriation Deukmejian made for local school districts to offset costs of voluntary school desegregation programs, such as the magnet school program, as well as court-ordered desegregation programs.

Separate Bill

Deukmejian Administration officials said they will try to get the appropriation enacted in a separate bill. The proposal is a key part of the governor’s plan to spend a portion of the $900-million revenue windfall that turned up in the treasury in May to pay “moral and legal” obligations.

The legislators also removed a Senate-backed $31.1-million addition to the Gifted and Talented Education program (GATE) for elementary and high schools, leaving $18.9 million in the budget. Some lawmakers said they will fight for the increased funds in another bill.

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Also trimmed was $10 million targeted for the Miller-Unruh reading program for slow-reading elementary school students. But the lawmakers left a 4% increase for the program recommended by Deukmejian.

Budget negotiators then voted down a Senate proposal to give high schools an additional $19 million for educational materials. Sen. Alfred E. Alquist (D-San Jose) said that school districts would soon have state lottery funds available to spend on such items as books and films.

The $90 million additional appropriation for community colleges may be heading for a gubernatorial veto.

Deukmejian said his budget already contains a nearly 10% increase in funding for the two-year colleges.

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