With a $4.4-billion budget surplus projected, some California Democrats are calling for increased state spending. Governor Jerry Brown pushed back against that message today while releasing his May budget revision.
Brown is proposing a $156 billion budget for the coming fiscal year. That’s an $11 billion increase over last year and Brown is reluctant to spend more. He points out there have been 11 budget deficits in the last 15 years, and only 3 surpluses. He says history shows the state will likely find itself in another deficit situation again unless spending is restrained.
“I find arguing with reality a very chancy endeavor. And the reality is the numbers I’ve laid before you. That is the given and we will live with it and work with it in the best we can in the spirit of comity and transparent and open negotiations.”
His message was met with cautious approval by Republicans. Senate Minority Leader Bob Huff called Brown’s proposal relatively austere, though he notes the multi-billion dollar spending increase over last year. But Huff says Brown is right to keep costs down.
“We have to take care of our existing programs before we can start new ones. That’s just disingenuous to start something you can’t continue. And that’s what leads to this whole boom and bust, the government ramping up programs then having to chop them off. And that’s probably the most cruel thing a government can do, to set up something it can’t sustain.”
Progressives say, after years of budget cuts, it’s time to restore social services millions of people depend on.
Brown does allocate more money for schools, Medi-Cal and paying off debt. He’s also proposing $1.6 billion be deposited in the state’s reserve.