By ADAM BEAM (Associated Press)
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California lawmakers passed a budget Thursday to ensure they keep getting paid, but it’s a blueprint unlikely to become law because the Democrat-controlled Legislature is still negotiating with Gov. Gavin Newsom. At stake is how to spend more than $300 billion for the fiscal year that starts July 1.
Legislative leaders and Newsom, who is also a Democrat, have until the end of June to agree on a spending plan. Lawmakers must pass a budget by June 15 to keep their paychecks, a requirement voters approved in 2010 to try to keep the budget process from dragging on.
Here’s a look at the sticking points:
Newsom’s budget is $306.5 billion. The Legislature’s is $311.7 billion.
Both sides agree the state will have a $31.5 billion budget deficit, to be covered through a combination of delayed spending, some cuts and borrowing. Once those actions are taken, both sides end up with about $37 billion in reserve.
Public transit agencies, most notably in the San Francisco Bay Area, say they are running out of money because federal aid they have been relying on expires soon. They have asked the state to help make up that difference.
Newsom did not include any extra money for public transportation agencies in his budget. Instead, he proposed cutting about $2 billion in infrastructure spending. The Legislature wants to restore that money. Their proposal also makes spending the money “flexible,” meaning public transportation agencies can use it for operations.
The Legislature’s budget increases child care funding by 25%, mostly by reallocating unspent funds from some programs. Lawmakers also would reduce fees families pay to use the state’s subsidized child care programs.
However, lawmakers agreed with Newsom to delay funding 20,000 new child care slots until next year.
Many of Newsom’s proposed spending cuts come from environmental programs over the next few years. The Legislature wants to restore some of that spending, including $310 million for recycled water programs, $204 million for parks and $102 million to protect the coast from climate change.
Lawmakers pay for these programs by cutting $1.3 billion in spending approved in prior budgets, including $937 million for a “strategic energy reserve” to help the state avoid summer blackouts.
Lawmakers are still asking Newsom to close five prisons by 2027, noting the state has about 20,000 unused beds. They rejected Newsom’s plan to spend $360.9 million to build a new educational and vocational center at San Quentin State Prison by 2025.
Newsom is pushing for major changes in the state’s building and permitting process so the state can build things faster, including roads and bridges. Some lawmakers want to exempt a tunnel project to re-route how the state moves water from north to south. Lawmakers have also said they haven’t had enough time to consider Newsom’s proposals.
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