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Brown, Legislative Leaders Reach Budget Deal


There’s a California budget deal at the state Capitol. The agreement reached Thursday afternoon does not include higher spending than what Gov. Jerry Brown proposed last month, but it does include several top priorities for legislative Democrats.

The governor and Democratic leaders agreed to spend roughly $122 billion from California’s general fund in the fiscal year that starts in July. They’ll also move an extra two billion dollars into the state’s “rainy day fund” – beyond the automatic contributions mandated by voters two years ago.

But by shifting around existing resources and making a few cuts, they’ve come up with new money for preschool and child care, UC and CSU, and affordable housing. And the budget agreement ends a controversial rule that blocked families on welfare who have new babies from receiving higher grants.

The deal comes nearly a week before the Legislature’s June 15th constitutional budget deadline – a deadline Democratic leaders met in recent years by passing their own spending plan before reaching a deal with the governor. This year, all three are on board – and a vote will come next week.

Scroll down for more on some of the noteworthy parts of the budget deal.

-- Ben Adler, Capital Public Radio

Update at 8:35pm: Lawmaker reactions to the state budget agreement are starting to come in.

Senate Budget Committee chair Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) acknowledged that nobody is getting everything they want – but called it a three-way compromise.

“We’re on a very good path right now, and I think we can be proud of what we’re delivering to the people of California.” Leno said at the start of the legislative conference committee hearing Thursday evening. 

The top Assembly Republican on the budget committee, Asm. Jay Obernolte (R-Hesperia), praised the deal for its short-term fiscal restraint – but says it does not address the $4 billion dollar deficit projected in a few years.

“Failure to address this looming problem is not good governance. California should have balanced budgets for both today and for tomorrow,” Obernolte said in a statement.

-- Ben Adler, Capital Public Radio

Update at 8:01pm: California will repeal a two-decade old limit on state aid to women who have more children while on welfare.

The compromise budget agreed to by Governor Jerry Brown and state lawmakers Thursday eliminates the “maximum family grant.”

Democratic lawmakers have called the policy discriminatory. It prevents higher welfare payments to women who have more children.

Brown initially did not set aside the estimated $200 million it would cost the state to repeal the policy.

The budget deal sets aside roughly half that amount for the upcoming fiscal year—and then uses money previously committed to county health programs that’s been freed up by the expansion of Medicaid.

-- Ben Bradford, Capital Public Radio

Update at 6:45pm: The budget deal also includes $100 million for child care and preschool providers to help them pay employees as the statewide minimum wage gradually rises under a law signed earlier this year.

Child care and preschool providers voiced concerns they could not afford the higher salaries without an increase in state funding.

Under the deal, child care funding will gradually grow to $500 million in future state budgets as future minimum wage increases kick in.

The Brown administration says child care spending has always been treated as not required under a minimum wage increase. "This is a big change," says a top administration source.

The governor and Democratic legislative leaders agreed in March to gradually raise California's minimum wage –  currently $10/hour –  until it reaches $15 an hour in 2022.

In addition, there's money in the deal for additional preschool slots: About 3,000 at first, but eventually nearly 9,000. 

-- Ben Adler, Capital Public Radio

Update at 6:40pm: Funding affordable housing has been a key sticking point in budget negotiations between state lawmakers and Governor Jerry Brown. The compromise budget agreement sets aside $400 million for affordable housing. The state Assembly had proposed $650 million.

But under the agreement, the money can’t be spent until Brown and lawmakers decide on how to change the complex and time-consuming process through which affordable housing projects are approved.

In his May budget proposal, Brown suggested fast-tracking developments that meet basic zoning requirements and offer affordable housing. It would bypass local hearings and local government discretion to disapprove the projects.

Cities and environmental groups have pushed back, arguing that would limit public engagement and transparency. In their compromise, lawmakers and the governor have agreed  on how much affordable housing to fund, but punted on how to build it or where to spend the money.

-- Ben Bradford, Capital Public Radio

Original story: California Governor Jerry Brown and Democratic legislative leaders have reached a state budget deal.

Top administration and legislative sources confirmed an agreement was reached Thursday afternoon.

It includes an end to the controversial "maximum family grant" welfare rule, which prevents families who have another child while on welfare from receiving higher payments.

And it includes more money for affordable housing projects – but only if a later agreement can be reached on how to streamline the approval process for housing developments.

The deal also includes an additional $2 billion deposit to the "rainy day fund" budget reserve on top of the automatic deposits required by the California Constitution.

A vote on the deal is expected next week.

-- Ben Adler, Capital Public Radio