Gov. Jerry Brown is betting that California continues its gradual climb from the depths of the recession but said Monday that even a multi-billion dollar bounce in tax revenue will not close the state's budget deficit and he wants to keep pushing a series of tax increases.
The Democratic governor released his revised budget proposal for the fiscal year that starts July 1, a spending plan that mixes hope for better days ahead with a warning about the future if the Legislature fails to enact his plan for higher taxes.
Public schools in particular could face billions in cuts unless the state brings in more money, he said.
The governor proposed spending of $88.8 billion, a nearly 5 percent increase over the budget he introduced in January. The boost was fueled by rising sales, personal income and corporate tax receipts -- the three main sources of the state's general fund.
The governor expects an overall increase of $6.6 billion in tax receipts for the coming year.
The rising revenue and spending cuts already enacted by Democratic lawmakers and Brown have reduced the projected deficit to $9.6 billion. It had been estimated as high as $26.6 billion at the start of the year.
Noting the increased tax revenue, Brown is proposing to slightly modify his call for a renewal of expiring tax increases. But he defended his decision to push ahead with the tax plan, saying the state faces deficits into the future.
"California's finances were plunged into turmoil by the Great Recession and a decade of short-term fixes and fiscal gimmicks," he said during a Capitol news conference. "This is not the time to delay or evade. This is the time to put our finances in order."
Brown's Plan Welcomed By SD Unified Staff Members
Gov. Jerry Brown's plan to restore $3 billion in funding to California schools was welcomed by staffers at San Diego Unified School District.
"You can't even fathom the excitement among the staff," said Ross Elementary School Principal Tim Suanico. "I have teachers who have been on this ongoing roller coaster about whether or not they'll get to stay."
If approved, Brown's revised budget would return an estimated $48 million to SD Unified, according to SDUSD Chief of Staff Bernie Rhinerson.
The district will begin work this week to decide what cuts can be restored. Rhinerson said the Board of Education is expected to keep its promise to restore class size in grades K-3, which would mean rescinding the pink slips of hundreds of teachers.
"This is good news, but it's not what we need to run a quality school district," said Rhinerson, who explained SD Unified has made $400 million in cuts over the past four years. "So a lot of our special programs and a lot of our staff are still facing layoffs, even with this good news."
Ross Elementary kindergarten teacher Nina Udall did what she calls her "happy dance" when she learned about the governor's plan. She's one of 6 teachers at her school, whose jobs were cut. Although she wasn't issued a pink slip, the cuts would have forced her to leave the classroom where she's taught for the past 9 years.
"I didn't want to leave," said Udall. "So I'm real excited to hear that the governor's found some money for us."
That money would come mostly from Proposition 98, which guarantees minimum state funding levels, but it's not a done deal.
Brown must convince Republicans in Sacramento to pass his budget, and later, for the voters to sign off on it.
In the meantime, SD Unified plans to move forward with its budget, which must be finalized by June 30.
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