RANDY PENCH / rpench@sacbee.com

From left, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, Gov. Jerry Brown and Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez are displayed on a video monitor during a Capitol news conference Tuesday on the $96.3 billion budget deal. Brown said he hasn't agreed to consider higher spending later if the economy improves.

Brown says he hasn't agreed to consider future spending hikes

Published: Wednesday, Jun. 12, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 3A
Last Modified: Wednesday, Jun. 12, 2013 - 8:51 am

One day after reaching a compromise with legislative leaders on the state budget, Gov. Jerry Brown said Tuesday he has not agreed to consider increased spending if the economy outperforms his administration's expectations.

Legislative Democrats had said Monday when they accepted Brown's relatively conservative revenue estimates that they could call for additional spending in January if tax revenue came in higher than anticipated.

"I haven't made any agreement," Brown told reporters at the Capitol. "Look, we have boom and bust, money comes in, money goes out. And I'm trying to be a good, prudent steward of the people's money."

"In general," he added, "I think prudence rather than exuberance should be the order of the day."

The Democratic governor appeared with Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, and Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez, D-Los Angeles, to tout the deal days before a likely vote in both houses this week.

"This is not only a balanced budget, but it's a real step forward," Brown said.

The budget deal includes a modified version of Brown's controversial proposal to shift more money to poor and English-learning students. The proposal was made more palatable to lawmakers by Brown's agreement to spread more money to more school districts statewide.

The agreement also includes commitments to spend money in the future on mental health services, college student aid and other programs. Brown, however, agreed to spend far less than lawmakers hoped.

Legislative Democrats had initially urged about $2 billion more in spending on state services and programs than Brown's figure. The $96.3 billion agreement reached Monday includes about $200 million more in discretionary, general fund spending.

"The budget not only is in balance," Steinberg said, "but it begins to provide some relief to the people who were hurt most over the last several years."

Not everyone is happy.

Environmental groups are choking on a piece of the deal that would borrow half a billion dollars intended for programs to curtail greenhouse gases.

California's fledgling cap-and-trade program auctioned off its first permits in November, following through on a landmark 2006 law, and has raised about $236 million to date, according to the state Air Resources Board. Those proceeds are supposed to flow into programs to reduce emissions.

But the governor wants to shift $500 million generated by the auctions into the general fund. Brown defended the move Tuesday at a news conference by saying "we don't think we're quite ready yet" to start allocating the money.

Call David Siders, Bee Capitol Bureau, (916) 321-1215. Follow him on Twitter @davidsiders. Jeremy B. White of The Bee Capitol Bureau contributed to this report.

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

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