Capitol Alert

How the budget Jerry Brown just signed affects schools, marijuana and child care

The California budget in 42 seconds

The largest budget in California to date covers everything from education to marijuana regulation.
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The largest budget in California to date covers everything from education to marijuana regulation.

California Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday signed a $183 billion state budget the veteran Democrat touted as an example of the state’s fiscal prudence amid “uncertain times.”

“California is taking decisive action by enacting a balanced state budget,” Brown said in a written statement. “This budget provides money to repair our roads and bridges, pay down debt, invest in schools, fund the earned income tax credit and provide Medi-Cal health care for millions of Californians.”

A look at where some of the money is going:

How much is going to schools?

California’s budget spends a record $74.5 billion on schools and community colleges, an increase of more than $3 billion compared to this year.

State money to schools has jumped by $27 billion over six years.

There are essentially two main pots of funding that districts can use however they see fit – from salary increases to the added cost of doing business.

Nearly $1.4 billion will continue into future years. There also is another nearly $900 million in so-called one-time money, which comes out to about $147 per student.

Not every school district will come out ahead, however, despite the increases. Some dealing with pension obligations and other costs still are not expected to make up the financial gaps.

What about university tuition increases?

The budget for the University of California and California State University assumes tuition increases previously approved by both systems.

Tuition, the first in the last six years, will grow by more than $280 yearly at the UC and $270 at Cal State.

While most students and their families will have to pay more, some with family incomes that meet the threshold and criteria, based on family size, assets and the student’s GPA, qualify for grants that compensate for the tuition increases. Other state financial aid programs are available to families making more.

At CSUs, the state university grant waives tuition for many students who don’t receive a Cal Grant tuition award. UC has a plan it says will ensure students won’t have to pay tuition and fees out of their own pockets if they are California residents whose total family incomes are less than $80,000 a year.

The budget also calls for modest spending on students in both systems who can’t afford food.

Overall, the new budget sets aside $14.5 billion from the general fund for higher education, and, as part of a deal reached between Gov. Jerry Brown and Democratic lawmakers, it removes some of the financial autonomy of UC President Janet Napolitano.

The move followed a tough state audit that determined UC overcharged campuses to fund its operations, spent excessively on employee compensation and socked away $175 million in secret reserves.

What’s in the budget for the working poor?

The budget expands the earned income tax credit to self-employed income and raises the income threshold to about $22,000, allowing more than 1 million households to claim the credit.

Nearly 400,000 households did so in 2015.

How will the new tobacco tax be spent?

After months of stalemate, Brown and Democrats agreed to use some of the $1.26 billion in new tobacco tax revenue to raise Medi-Cal provider rates for physicians and other health professionals.

Doctors, dentists and others who provide publicly funded care for the poor will receive $546 million in supplemental provider payments next year ($325 million for physician services and $140 million for dental services). Another $711 million will go for Medi-Cal program growth.

Legislators, depending on the state’s fiscal health, also could increase provider payments to $800 million in the budget year beginning July 1, 2018, the last year of the two-year pact.

How is Brown responding to Donald Trump’s Washington?

In a few ways.

The budget provides $6.5 million to fund 31 positions in the state Department of Justice to address what officials describe as new workloads relating to health care, environmental rules, consumer affairs and other general constitutional issues.

Between late January and the start of May, Attorney General Xavier Becerra’s office spent more than 11,000 hours responding to the actions.

Separately, the budget sends $50 million to women’s health programs as the Republican-led Congress moves to defund Planned Parenthood.

Will it expand child care?

In January, Brown proposed freezing a past deal to boost child care provider rates and add nearly 3,000 preschool slots. Yet in May, Brown agreed to restore the planned pause.

The budget he enacted lifts the ceiling for child care provider reimbursement rates to reflect increases brought on by the new higher state minimum wage, now $10.50 per hour.

The reimbursement rate increase is nearly $93 million for state preschool and other contracted child care providers, beginning July 1. Another $41 million will go to voucher-based child care providers.

There is $25 million to increase income eligibility requirements for state-subsidized child care and development programs and to establish that a family determined to be eligible for a subsidy remains eligible for 12 months, regardless of change in need or income, unless income exceeds 85 percent of the current state median income.

Nearly $8 million more goes to provide access to full-day state preschool for another 2,959 children from low-income working families, starting next March.

Does it touch on legal marijuana?

Yes.

The deal agreed to by Brown as part of a budget-related bill blends Proposition 64 and medical marijuana laws previously approved by the Legislature.

Highlights include a $100 infraction for driving with an “open container” of weed, and continues to allow local communities to ban marijuana deliveries in their jurisdictions.

Christopher Cadelago: 916-326-5538, @ccadelago

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