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California

Lawmakers send Gov. Jerry Brown bill for more university funding

Toni Atkins
Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) is pushing for more money for public universities in California.
(Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

When California lawmakers settled on a new state budget in June, they included triggers that would send more money to public universities if property tax revenue outpaced expectations.

The expectations weren’t met, but lawmakers are moving forward with additional funding anyway.

On Friday night, the Legislature approved $50 million each for the University of California and Cal State University systems. The money is intended for projects like overdue maintenance work.

State taxes have generated nearly $500 million more than expected -- a combination of money left over from the last fiscal year and strong receipts in July -- and supporters say there’s enough cash available to send more to universities.

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But Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration opposes the bill, said H.D. Palmer, spokesman for the Department of Finance.

He said it’s too risky to dish out more money to universities when tax revenue could fluctuate over the next year. In addition, fighting wildfires during California’s drought could become increasingly expensive -- the state has already spent $159 million of its $204-million allocation.

“So in eight weeks, we’ve already burned through more than three-fourths of the amount that’s been budgeted for the entire year,” Palmer said. “And fire season is far from over.”

Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins (D-Sacramento), a primary proponent of the new funding, said she’d work to overcome Brown’s objections.

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“I’ll do whatever lobbying I have to do to get it done,” she said.

Follow @chrismegerian for more updates from Sacramento.


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