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Dems Stake Out Negotiating Ground in Budget Fight

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio
 

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

California Governor Jerry Brown’s latest budget proposal won’t get much love over the next couple of days.  Legislative Democrats will reject several parts of Brown’s plan – and add more money to key education and social service programs.

The legislature’s expected actions in budget subcommittees this week will essentially be Democrats’ opening negotiating position – just as the governor staked his ground out as he released his "May Revise" last week.

Brown wants to limit new spending while building a reserve and paying down debt.  Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins says she shares those priorities – but supports “limited, smart new investments” as well.

“Where we disagree or where we may have to come together, where we have those tensions, it is a small percentage of the budget – but in areas with potential to have big impact on the lives and the people of California,” Atkins told the Sacramento Press Club Wednesday.

Assembly Democrats plan to push for a CalWORKs food benefit for children and reject Brown’s call to eliminate overtime pay for in-home care workers.

Meanwhile, Senate Leader Darrell Steinberg wants to offer full-day pre-kindergarten and child care to four-year-olds from low-income working families earning up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level. His proposal would replace California's existing transitional kindergarten program, which was established two years ago for five-year-olds considered too young to begin kindergarten.

“The full day is not only good for the child; it ensures that their parent can work and still provide a safe, enriching place,” Steinberg told Capital Public Radio Wednesday.

Both caucuses support paying for child care for tens of thousands more kids than the governor is calling for.  They also want to send more money to the UC and CSU systems than Brown does: $60 million more to each system in the Senate, $100 million in the Assembly.

Full or partial restoration of the 10 percent Medi-Cal reimbursement cut to doctors could be on the table as well.

The governor’s Department of Finance says the extra money Democrats would use comes from one-time revenues that shouldn’t be spent on new investments.

Note: This story has been updated to reflect new details from Sen. Steinberg's office on his early childhood education proposal.

 capitolcabudget2014