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Budget Update: No Final Deal Yet, But Compromises Emerge

  

There’s still no word of a final California budget deal from Governor Jerry Brown and Democratic legislative leaders.

That’s despite a joint Assembly-Senate conference committee meeting for several hours Thursday afternoon for the second day in a row to formalize agreements reached behind closed doors.

The cliché at the Capitol is that budgets are about priorities. Inevitably, some win out – and others don’t.

Among the losers this year: Medi-Cal providers – doctors, hospitals, even Planned Parenthood. They wanted a 10 percent reimbursement rate cut from past years to be restored. But Governor Jerry Brown’s opposition ruled the day – disappointing lawmakers from both parties.

“All of us have real concerns about issues of access, and I have to respectfully acknowledge that there’s just a difference of an opinion between the administration and both houses,” said Senate Budget Chair Mark Leno (D-San Francisco). 

But there’s a five percent increase to welfare grants, and everyone compromised on one of the thorniest issues: how to spend cap-and-trade revenues. The governor got 25 percent for his high-speed rail project; and legislative leaders got money for their priorities, such as affordable housing and development projects near mass transit.

Republicans are not part of negotiations now that their votes aren’t needed to pass a spending plan. Assembly Budget Vice-Chair Jeff Gorell (R-Camarillo) says he appreciates the governor holding firm on using cautious revenue estimates – but the budget’s spending priorities are upside-down.

“I think Republicans would focus more on public education, public safety and infrastructure. And we wouldn’t have invested as much in some of the social programmatic spending, and we wouldn’t have spent money on the high-speed rail,” Gorell said.

IHSS Deal At The Capitol

Legislative sources tell Capital Public Radio that the budget deal being finalized by Calif. Gov. Jerry Brown and Democratic lawmakers will retain overtime pay for in-home care workers.

Brown proposed capping caregivers' hours to limit the state's overtime costs in the In-Home Supportive Services program. He feared a new federal rule requiring overtime pay for IHSS workers would send costs spiraling out of control.

Caregivers, unions and Democratic lawmakers stridently opposed the governor's proposed cap. They argued the needs of disabled and elderly patients often require care far more than 40 hours a week.

Deal Would Allocate 25 Percent Of Cap-And-Trade Funds To High-Speed Rail

The sides have also agreed on how to divvy up what could be up to $1 billion in cap-and-trade revenues in the upcoming fiscal year.

Brown will get 25 percent of the money for one of his top budget priorities -- the state's ambitious but controversial high-speed rail project.

Twenty percent of the pot will go to affordable housing and transit-oriented development; 15 percent to rail and mass transit; and 40 percent to other programs including low-carbon transportation, energy, natural resources and water diversion.

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