Tax credit, road repairs on budget wish list from Assembly Democrats

Toni Atkins, Jerry Brown
Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins (D-San Diego), pictured here with Gov. Jerry Brown shortly after being sworn into her new leadership role last year, detailed new budget priorities for her caucus Tuesday.
(Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

As California tax coffers burst with higher-than-expected revenue, Assembly Democrats on Tuesday detailed some of the ways they want to use the money.

Topping their wish list are a new tax credit for poor Californians, more support for public universities and new funding for overdue road repairs.

Although the outline didn’t come with specific price tags, Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) said the ideas could involve spending about $1 billion more than Gov. Jerry Brown proposed earlier this year.

“We know we’re not going to get everything we want,” Atkins said. “No one ever does.”


The ideas from Atkins and her caucus come the week before Brown is scheduled to release an updated version of his budget proposal, and it remains to be seen how much money will be available for additional spending.

Legislative analysts said the state has collected roughly $3 billion more revenue than anticipated in the current fiscal year. However, California’s constitutional education funding law will direct most, if not all, of the funds to schools and community colleges.

Assembly Democrats are confident there will be some wiggle room during negotiations. A final budget is due June 15.

“There should be sufficient revenues to deal with these priorities,” said Chris Woods, the Democrats’ budget advisor.


The Assembly’s list includes a focus on creating California’s own earned income tax credit, which would allow low-income residents to keep more of the money they earn. Twenty-five other states already have such policies in place.

“We hope that will lift thousands of folks out of deep poverty,” said Assembly Budget Chairwoman Shirley Weber (D-San Diego).

The tax credit could help roughly 700,000 Californians and cost the state $450 million in revenue, according to legislative analysts.

Atkins also wants to push forward with her previous proposal for a new fee to help fund road repairs. She hopes to eventually provide $2 billion more for maintenance efforts, which have languished for years as funding has failed to keep up with potholes.

Follow @chrismegerian for more updates from Sacramento.

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