Jerry Brown’s Budget: What You Need to Know

SACRAMENTO, CA - OCTOBER 27:  California Governor Jerry Brown announces his public employee pension reform plan October 27, 2011 at the State Capitol in Sacramento, California.  Gov. Brown proposed 12 major reforms for state and local pension systems that he claims would end abuses and reduce taypayer costs by billions of dollars.  (Photo by Max Whittaker/Getty Images)

California Governor Jerry Brown. Photo by Max Whittaker/Getty Images

Governor Jerry Brown released his revised budget proposal last week, presenting a $115.3 billion spending plan, up from the original $113 billion plan he presented in January. The budget reflects an unexpected increase in state revenue since the start of the year – $3 billion, to be exact.

The state budget is, of course, an incredibly complex document. Rather than subject you (and us!) to the task of trying to understand the whole thing, today we present you with three of the most notable parts of the budget for you to comment and vote on:

Increased K-12 Education Spending

Under proposition 98, a voter-approved constitutional amendment passed in 1988, most of any extra money the state accumulates through unexpected windfalls must be allocated to California’s educational system. Given the surge in total state revenue, Governor Brown announced an additional $3,000 of spending per student. This comes as welcome news to school districts state-wide: in the wake of the fiscal recession in 2009, the 30,000 teachers and school staff were laid off.

Do you support this increased spending in K-12 education? Vote and comment here.

Increase K-12 Funding $3,000 per Student

In his revised budget, California governor Jerry Brown proposed increasing K-12 spending $3,000 per student. This comes as a result of an unexpected surge in state tax revenue. The additional funding would greatly benefit California’s school districts, which had to lay off 30,000 teachers and school staff in the wake of the 2009 financial crisis.



 

UC Tuition Freeze

Also featuring prominently in the governor’s budget is a deal he cut with University of California president Janet Napolitano. Over the last several months, the two had butted heads over Napolitano’s plan to increase tuition on UC undergraduates by five percent every five years. Napolitano maintained that, in the absence of additional state funding, the UC had no other choice. The governor adamantly opposed the tuition hikes, saying the university should seek out cost cutting measures.

And then the state took in more money than expected. More money has a way of bringing people together.

Under their new agreement, tuition on in-state students will freeze for the next two years. The state will allocate an additional 4% of general fund revenue to the university over the next four years for a total of $507 million, and will also provide an additional $436 million over the next three years to help the university pay down its pension obligations. Governor Brown also wanted to increase the number of in-state students the university admits; Napolitano has yet to announce whether this will occur.

Sound like a good compromise to you?

Freeze UC Tuition

Governor Jerry Brown and UC President Janet Napolitano have come to an agreement to freeze tuition UC undergraduates pay for the next two years. Napolitano had pushed for a plan to increase tuition, which Brown staunchly opposed. In exchange for the tuition freeze, the state will provide UC with an additional 4% of general fund revenue to the university over the next four years for a total of $507 million, and will also provide an additional $436 million over the next three years to help the university pay down its pension obligations.



 

The State Earned Income Tax Credit

The other standout feature of the budget is the governor’s proposal for a state earned income tax credit. The EITC is an anti-poverty measure that provides qualifying working families with an annual tax credit. The allocation is determined on a sliding scale based on the household income and number of children in the family. Under the governor’s plan, 825,000 families would benefit and receive an average of $460 every year. The maximum payout a family could receive is $2,653. The governor’s move comes amidst repeated calls by progressive legislators to do more for the working poor. 25 other states and the District of Columbia have instituted their own versions of the EITC.

Is it time that California have its own earned income tax credit?

California Earned Income Tax Credit

In his 2015 state budget, Governor Jerry Brown proposed a state earned income tax credit. The policy targets lower income populations, and gives a tax credit on a sliding scale based on income and the number of children in the household. Under the governor’s plan, 825,000 families would benefit and receive an average of $460 every year. The maximum payout a family could receive is $2,653.



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