Here is a look at four spending categories in Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed $164.7-billion budget.
The governor proposes increased funding for K-12 schools, community colleges and public universities by tapping temporary tax revenue from Proposition 30, a measure approved by state voters in 2012.
The $58 billion budgeted for kindergarten through 12th grade would increase funding by 3% over the current fiscal year. It represents $13,462 per pupil, $2,600 per student more than in 2012.
“The greatest consensus for spending we have in California is for education,” Brown said.
Money for community colleges would climb 8%, to $7.5 billion.
“Gov. Brown’s budget proposal for community colleges is the best our system has seen in years,” said California Community Colleges Chancellor Brice W. Harris. It would “make seats available for 45,000 more students.”
Brown proposes increasing general fund revenue to the University of California and California State University by 4%, or $119.5 million each, but only if they do not increase tuition or enrollment from out-of-state students.
“We’re holding tuition flat for college students,” Brown said.
The UC Board of Regents recently approved a plan that could increase tuition by up to 5% a year for five years, but Brown said he is working with officials on ways to reduce spending to avoid a tuition increase.
University of California President Janet Napolitano said she was “disappointed the governor did not include sufficient revenue to expand enrollment of California students” but hoped future talks would resolve differences.
Brown proposes $31 billion for health and human services, with half of the money going to Medi-Cal, the state’s public health program for the poor.
The program has swelled by 50% in recent years, according to the Brown administration, largely due to President Obama’s healthcare law. The governor estimates that 12.2 million people will be receiving coverage by midsummer 2016, the end of the next fiscal year.
The rolls may increase further due to Obama’s executive action on immigration, which will protect from deportation more than 1 million immigrants who are in California illegally.
The Brown administration notes that those individuals may qualify for Medi-Cal and other social programs, which could cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars each year. There is no money for those immigrants in Brown’s blueprint, as the state awaits further guidance from Washington.
California already provides Medi-Cal to certain other noncitizens, such as some young adults brought to the United States illegally when they were children. Activists say that the state will have to cover those affected by Obama’s order as well.
Brown’s budget would not increase money to pay healthcare providers for Medi-Cal services. Payments to some providers were reduced by 10% in 2011, and those cuts have not been restored. Health groups say more is needed to ensure that enough doctors will participate in the program.
To address poverty, Brown proposes more than $1.2 billion for adult education and job training.
California’s cap-and-trade program, which is aimed at stemming climate change by charging fees to polluters, is expected to generate $1 billion in revenue in the next fiscal year.
Guidelines for spending the money were set last summer. There is $250 million for construction of the state’s planned high-speed rail system and $100 million for other rail programs; $200 million for sustainable affordable housing; and $200 million for low-carbon transportation.
“The Governor understands we must act now to curb the devastating impacts of climate change,” said a statement from Annie Notthoff, director of California Advocacy for the Natural Resources Defense Council.
And more money would be available for energy-efficiency projects — $110 million total.
Brown would also begin spending some of the $7.5 billion in water bond money approved by voters in November. He calls for $532.5 million, with the largest chunk going to water recycling and treatment projects.
Last year, Brown and lawmakers approved new rules for managing groundwater, and the governor’s proposal includes $21.9 million for local agencies to begin developing regulations.
California has been suffering from a multiyear drought, and the governor’s proposal includes $61.8 million to help the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection keep enough personnel available to fight wildfires.
The state routinely drains its annual firefighting budget.
Brown also wants to give the parks department $20 million for overdue maintenance work.
Prison medical care costs — already the highest in the nation — continue to rise, pushing Brown’s proposed corrections budget to $10.3 billion, from $10.1 billion in the current fiscal year.
The governor singled out the cost of new drugs for chronic Hepatitis C, a potentially deadly virus that infects as much as a third of the prison population.
Treatment costs as much as $98,000 per inmate, said Joyce Hayhoe, spokeswoman for the court-appointed receiver who runs the prison medical system.
Brown’s spending plan includes $300 million for treatment but also notes that he wants state prisons, hospitals and Medi-Cal programs to adopt a shared policy of who does, and who does not, receive the drugs.
Brown projects that addition of new beds at existing prisons, early inmate release programs and conversion of drug crimes to misdemeanors under Proposition 47 will reduce prison crowding sufficiently to meet court-ordered population caps.
The governor’s inclusion of additional funding for courts for a third year drew praise from Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye.
However, $12 million of that increase is to replenish funds for training police dispatchers and law enforcement officers.
To come up with that money, Brown proposes an 18-month “amnesty” for those with unpaid traffic tickets and court fines, who could clear the debts by paying half what they owe.
Even so, Brown proposes to cut the budget for peace officer training by $5.3 million.
—Paige St. John