Mixer: Budget is more of the same, and not much more

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friday mixer bannerGovernor Jerry Brown today released a record $113 billion state spending plan.

Under the proposal, the general fund will increase about 5 percent from the current fiscal year… something the governor says reflects California’s economic momentum.

The governor, however, did not propose many new programs but instead focused on covering growing costs to existing ones.

John Myers is at the California Politics Desk at KQED in San Francisco, and Joe Mathews is California Columnist at Zocalo Public Square. Both joined us.

The highlights of the governor’s budget proposal include a 5 percent increase over last year, so not much more money for anything, aside from items that require more money because of increased costs. The governor’s getting a little hammered from the left for upping the ante on some programs that really took a hit in the Great Recession.

The governor says he understands there are poor people who need more help in the state, and California does more than most.

Brown noted that about 4 million more people are enrolled in the state’s low-income health care plan, Medi-Cal, as compared with 2012. The administration is mindful that President Barack Obama’s executive order to spare some immigrants from deportation will enable hundreds of thousands of low-income immigrants in California to apply for the state’s version of Medicaid. While the president’s action excludes immigrants who came to the country illegally from qualifying for federal health benefits, California has a policy of using state money to provide health coverage for low-income immigrants with deferred-action status.

Republicans, whose votes are not needed to pass a budget, have said they support the governor’s plan for saving the reserve.

Republican Assemblyman Bill Brough, from Dana Poin,t said, “I agree with the Governor that we must pay down debt, and address mounting unfunded pension and healthcare costs.  But we must also use today’s revenues responsibly and invest in the Rainy Day Fund to prepare for any budget shortfall in the future.”

GOP Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez, of Lake Elsinore, who is also Vice Chair of the Assembly Budget Committee, said Assembly Republicans are “pleased Governor Brown agrees with our position and made paying down the state’s unfunded liabilities a top budget priority… Reducing debt and saving for the future will protect funding priorities for Californians in the next recession.”

As far as the University of California system goes, Brown says he didn’t provide as much funding as the 10-campus system wanted because California’s budget is already stretched by debt payment and growing costs.

But he says it is $120 million boost, defending the proposal as “not chump change”.

The threat of UC tuition hikes motivated hundreds of students to protest across UC campuses from Los Angeles to Berkeley, where higher education was once free and fees have historically been below the national average.

In other news, California Senator Barbara Boxer announced yesterday that she will not run for re-election next year. And there’s already lots of speculation about who might succeed her: Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom; State Attorney General Kamala Harris; former LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa; and hedge fund manager and environmental activist Tom Steyer.

One person who apparently won’t be running for Boxer’s seat—LA Mayor Eric Garcetti.  He said he loves his current job and that he’s “committed to the work here.”

We wrapped up our conversation today with an unveiling of a new football and soccer stadium development in St. Louis. It is an effort, one would imagine, to reverse any momentum of moving that the NFL Rams.

Just this week, Rams owner Stan Kroenke, who had been in negotiations with the city of St. Louis over upgrades to the Rams current home, the Edward Jones Dome, announced his development group wants to build a massive sports complex at the site of Hollywood Park, including a 80,000 seat NFL football stadium.