Capitol Alert

Rapid response: What they’re saying about Jerry Brown’s California budget

California Gov. Jerry Brown speaks to members of the press about the current state budget at the Capitol in Sacramento on Jan. 10, 2018.
California Gov. Jerry Brown speaks to members of the press about the current state budget at the Capitol in Sacramento on Jan. 10, 2018.

Here’s what interest groups and political leaders are saying about Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed budget:

Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, D-Paramount:

“California’s economic health is stable because of the genius of its people. They removed the 2/3 budget vote that allowed hardliner hostage taking, they provided increased revenues to make important progress, and they elected a Democratic governor and legislature who have repeatedly demonstrated a commitment to responsible progressive investment, fiscal prudence, and debt reduction.

“The Governor’s final proposed budget is no exception, and follows key priorities outlined by the Assembly Budget Committee chair last month, namely fully funding the Rainy Day Fund and the schools’ Local Control Funding Formula. The Assembly Budget Committee will begin its hearings this month, and we will work with the Governor and our Senate colleagues to pass another on-time, balanced budget that best meets the needs of the state, reflects the values of Californians, and plants the necessary seeds for the future.”

Assembly Republican Leader Brian Dahle, R-Bieber:

“It’s a strange world where politicians are celebrating that the government took too much money from taxpayers, but that’s exactly what is happening with this budget surplus. My question is: when do California taxpayers get a break?

“In the meantime, Sacramento needs to invest in the state in ways that don’t put taxpayers on the hook for more ongoing spending programs. That means increasing the rainy day fund, paying down our out-of-control debt and investing in one-time infrastructure projects.”

California Secretary of State Alex Padilla:

“I applaud Governor Brown for including $134.3 million for new voting systems in his state budget proposal. Governor Brown is once again leading the way. This is an essential and timely investment in our democracy. Aging voting systems are one of the gravest threats to the integrity of our elections.

“It has been over 15 years since Congress approved significant funding for voting systems to help improve election administration. We have a responsibility to modernize our voting equipment to ensure the security of our elections, to expand voting opportunities, and to improve disability and language access. Governor Brown clearly understands that an investment in voting systems is an investment in the voter experience and the health of our democracy.”

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra:

“Governor Brown has shown his commitment to maintaining a prudent and balanced budget, while investing in programs that reflect California’s values. The Department of Justice has developed a strong track record of efficiently and effectively fighting for the people of California, from defending the civil rights of our most vulnerable populations to preserving the natural resources that make California a great place to live, work, and raise a family. I look forward to working with Governor Brown and the Legislature to ensure the hardworking men and women of the Department of Justice can do even more to promote public safety, enforce California’s laws, and defend the state’s interests against federal overreach.”

Assemblyman Jay Obernolte, R-Hesperia:

“The good news is that California currently has a substantial budget surplus. Unfortunately, this illustrates the fact that Californians pay too much in taxes. In a perfect world, the surplus would be returned to taxpayers. Failing that, we owe it to Californians to spend their money wisely.

“I’m pleased that the Governor agrees we must continue to set aside money for the rainy-day fund, but we still need to do more to prepare for future downturns. The surplus should be used to fund one-time investments in our state’s infrastructure – not on new programs that commit the state to future ongoing spending.

“We must also consider paying down California’s outstanding debt and liabilities, which currently exceed $200 billion. Moreover, without reform, ever-increasing pension costs at the local level will continue to crowd out funding for teachers, public safety and other essential services.

“California needs to be responsible with its money now so it can provide the infrastructure our state badly needs and protect vital services for our citizens in the future.”

Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell, D-Long Beach:

“The Governor’s proposal is responsible, allowing California to live within its means and stay a step ahead of the economy’s ups and downs. I applaud the Governor’s efforts and commitment to preparing our state for the future.

“As a parent, a teacher, and Chair of the Assembly Education Committee, I strongly support the increased funding proposed for education. I applaud the Governor’s proposal to fully fund the Local Control Funding Formula. We must continue to fund efforts that will strengthen the classroom experience by engaging all students and supporting them on their way to bright futures and lasting careers.

“I thank the Governor for recognizing the importance of K-12 Career Technical Education (CTE). At the same time, the proposal to shift responsibility for the program to the California Community College Chancellor’s Office is a step in the wrong direction. CTE is a critical component of robust K-12 education programs designed to ensure that students are well prepared for both college and a career. Dedicated state funding for K-12 CTE programs is essential to the ongoing success of these important programs. This is a top priority for me this session.

“I look forward to a collaborative effort with my colleagues in the Legislature to develop a responsible budget that prioritizes the needs of our students – successful students will build a successful state.”

Assemblyman Marc Berman, D-Palo Alto:

“As Chair of the Assembly Elections & Redistricting Committee, I applaud the Governor for his commitment in this budget to strengthening our democracy, and to fair and effective representation.

“By allocating $134.3 million in state funding to help counties replace aging voting systems, this budget represents an important step forward in ensuring the security, integrity, and accuracy of our elections. Furthermore, updating voting equipment will allow California to modernize the way we conduct elections, giving voters more choices about how, when, and where they cast their ballots.

“I further commend Governor Brown on his proposal to spend $40.3 million on outreach planning for the 2020 Census. The funding will help California’s efforts to encourage full participation in the 2020 Census, which will ensure fair political representation and distribution of funding to California.

“Census data not only determines the state’s representation in Congress, but is also used to allocate federal funding for vital programs and services, including Medicare, Medi-Cal, affordable housing, infrastructure, and programs for children. The Governor’s budget proposes investing approximately $1 per Californian to protect more than $750 billion in federal funding over the course of a decade.

“California is the largest and the hardest-to-count state in the nation, and there are clear indications that it will be particularly difficult to get a complete and accurate count of all residents in 2020. Not only is the next Census behind schedule and underfunded due to federal inaction, but it faces unique challenges because of the use of new and untested methodology. High levels of mistrust of the federal government will create further obstacles to an accurate count in 2020.

“By preparing now for a robust Census outreach effort, California can help ensure a more accurate and complete count of communities around the state.

“I look forward to working with the Governor on these two new major commitments that, taken together, will enable California to continue its unique leadership in promoting fair and effective representation.”

Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco:

“Governor Brown deserves credit for proposing a budget that continues to emphasize paying down debts and building reserves. Similar to the Assembly’s Blueprint for a Responsible Budget, the Governor’s proposed budget fully funds the Rainy Day Fund and the Local Control Funding Formula, which will help California withstand any future economic downturn and ongoing threats to state finances from the federal government.

“In contrast to the tumultuous governance model championed by Washington these days, I am grateful to hail from a state that has prioritized fiscal responsibility and progressive investments. As the Legislature crafts this year’s budget, I look forward to working with the Governor on additional measures to keep the state on strong economic footing, including increasing the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit, expanding healthcare to cover all Californians, and ensuring all students have access to affordable higher education. We will also fight to protect Californians from the disastrous federal tax plan that created tax breaks and loopholes for corporations and wealthy individuals at the expense of working families. Together, we will ensure the Golden State remains a place we are proud to call home.”

Sen. Mike McGuire, D-Healdsburg:

“Governor Brown’s cautious budget reflects both the need for California to continue to advance strategic investments in our shared priorities — education, healthcare and climate protection — while also increasing the state’s reserves by bolstering our rainy day fund.

“We have witnessed the worst fire season in history and we have been working hand-in-hand with local leaders and the Governor’s Office to secure desperately needed relief funding. While there is a lot more work ahead — and more funds needed — today’s budget reflects $23.7 million in tax backfill for the four counties. These funds will help communities, who are struggling to recover, continue with desperately needed services that will benefit residents in their greatest time of need.”

Sen. Bob Wieckowski, D-Fremont:

“Gov. Brown’s final budget proposal reflects the successful collaboration between the Legislature and the executive branch these past seven years to move California out of a devastating budget hole and onto a stable foundation. A sensible mix of hard work, tough decisions and strong support from voters has our state in a much better position to meet the many challenges facing California in the years ahead.

“As the Governor mentions in this budget, one of those challenges is making California more resilient in the face of our changing climate. I applaud the Governor’s attention to climate adaptation in this budget and hope he will move to centralize adaptation expenditure decisions to maximize their effect rather than leaving them splintered throughout various departments and agencies.

“This is the first step of our lengthy process and I look forward to working with the Governor, my colleagues and the people of California to pass a state budget that addresses our needs and keeps our economy strong.”

Sen. Jeff Stone, R-Temecula:

“As usual, the Governor gave a good speech this morning. He talked about fiscal restraint, paying down debt and returning money to local schools. But as has been the case far too often, the initial budget is the floor and I'm sure the Democrat leadership in Sacramento will now begin the spending spree we all know is coming.

“According to the Governor, the State of California has a massive surplus of state tax dollars due to improved capital gains tax receipts and lower unemployment. Instead of spending the surplus on new government entitlement programs, I am hopeful the final budget will reflect responsible spending priorities such as paying down pension debt, repaying school districts and local governments the money that was taken from them in prior budgets, providing meaningful tax relief to working Californians and putting in adequate resources to the state's rainy day fund.

“We should at least make an attempt to make public pensions more secure by making the decision to use a big portion of any surplus to deal with a looming crisis as well as adopting real pension reform that involves moving the state away from exclusively providing defined benefit plans.

“It's time to pay back our local school districts, our counties and our cities that the Legislature stole from in order to keep paying for more big government social programs, and this is the year that we should repay the debt.

“The Governor was prudent to propose fully funding the rainy day reserve fund, but we have plenty of room to provide much-needed tax relief for California's working families through income tax rate reductions to mitigate any negative impacts that may come from the recently adopted federal tax reform legislation. Tax reform and rate reduction that I have laid out in concept and will soon introduce as legislation should be a part of the discussion as we go through the budget process over the coming months.”

Assemblyman Tom Lackey, R-Palmdale:

“With California projected to have a budget surplus of several billion dollars, it’s hard to understand why we just raised gas and car taxes on drivers by $5 billion per year. We should put half of the surplus into the state’s rainy day account and use the other half to make a one-time investment into fixing and expanding our transportation network. California’s budget has never been larger and if we make smart decisions we can meet our infrastructure needs without raising taxes.”

Assemblyman Vince Fong, R-Bakersfield:

“In the next year, we are expected to see $19 billion in surplus tax revenue. Just by dedicating half of those surplus dollars to transportation infrastructure, we would be funding transportation at higher amounts than the entire gas tax increase that California drivers will be paying this year. The state’s historic surplus revenue clearly shows that we do not have a revenue problem, we have a spending problem. Taxpayers work hard for their income—we should work just as hard to protect it and allow you to keep more of it. We should always remember this is not Sacramento’s money—it’s your money.”

Assemblyman Jim Patterson, R-Fresno:

“California’s $7.5 billion surplus doesn’t belong to the state, it belongs to the people who paid taxes willingly to support this government. There will be members of the ruling party chomping at the bit to spend every cent of it. Instead of over-taxing the hardworking people of this state, we should lower tax rates and increase tax refunds.

“When people have extra money in their bank account it allows them to spend a bit more, be a bit more generous to causes they care about and save in their own rainy day fund. Giving billions back to the people will be an incredible benefit to our economy.”

State Controller Betty Yee:

“I can sum up the governor’s budget in one word: smart. The federal tax measure did not just stick it to California’s individual taxpayers–it also likely will have a devastating impact on our state budget, which may mean less money for essential social services such as Medi-Cal, Medicare, and the children’s health insurance program. We are not going to know for months just how deep the wounds will be from the president’s massive giveaway, so until we do, Governor Brown is once again wise in exercising caution with responsible short-term spending, boosting rainy day fund reserves, and paying down debt.”

Greg Lucas, California state librarian:

“These investments by Governor Brown help libraries do an even better job of connecting Californians to what they need to thrive. Every dollar spent improving public libraries returns four or five times the initial amount in social and economic benefit. And that’s particularly true of the literacy programs making stronger readers out of more Californians.”

George Runner, Board of Equalization:

“It’s a smart move by the governor to boost the state’s rainy day fund, since as he warns, the threat of a recession still looms, and California is still very much vulnerable to boom-and-bust budgeting.

“However, since members of his own party are suddenly and surprisingly concerned about taxpayers, it would be great if the governor would use the budget process to work with Republicans to come up with ways to reduce the overall tax burden of California residents, which is very high.

“The governor could start by refunding the money to Californians who paid the now suspended fire prevention fee, and by reconsidering the need for his catastrophic gas tax hike.”

George Kieffer, chair, University of California Board of Regents, and Janet Napolitano, president, University of California:

“The University of California is pleased that the governor’s budget announced today provides for a funding increase to our core educational budget. This 3 percent increase, however, is less than we anticipated under the framework we established with the governor. That agreement acknowledged the need for ongoing, predictable state funding to maintain UC quality and access while requiring the university to lower its cost structure.

“The university will continue to work toward fulfilling its commitments under the framework by spring 2018 and has an ambitious strategy in place to achieve the final component, which is related to transfer student enrollment.

“The governor’s budget plan does not include funding for UC enrollment growth. The university is committed to adding an additional 2,000 California undergraduates in fall 2018, including 1,500 that it will fund from its own resources. We have also requested support to add 500 more graduate students, who are critical to the university’s research mission and to meeting the state’s workforce needs. The state budget process has just begun and we hope to continue conversations with the governor and the Legislature to ensure expanded access for fall 2018 and to restore the university to the funding envisioned in the framework.”

Timothy White, chancellor, California State University

“The 2018-2019 budget proposal from the governor’s office is both concerning and surprising. By nearly any measure, the CSU is fulfilling its mission better than ever before. Yet the proposed level of funding, as a percent of our operating budget, provides an increase to our operating budget that is half the rate of inflation. Directives and constraints within the proposal further limit our ability to address critical university needs.

“The attainment of a high-quality CSU degree improves the lives of Californians and the economic prosperity of our state. CSU enrollment and student achievement have reached all-time highs as the university graduates an ever-greater number of students at a lower cost to California. This budget proposal could reverse any progress made in the last decade – diminishing student access, success, limiting degree attainment and depriving California’s industries of skilled professionals.

“Additional investment in the CSU and public higher education is both warranted and necessary – providing a return on public investment many times over. Over the coming months, we will take every opportunity to reinforce to the governor, Department of Finance and legislature that additional investment in the California State University is an investment in California’s future.”

“In his initial 2018-19 state budget, Governor Brown proposed an increase of $92.1 million for the CSU, which amounts to 1.4 percent of the university’s operating budget. This past November, CSU Trustees approved a budget requesting an increase of $282.9 million to fund priorities including the university-wide Graduation Initiative 2025, compensation, enrollment growth, facilities and infrastructure needs and mandatory costs.”

Jane Lose Conoley, president, Long Beach State University:

“The governor’s proposed budget includes another modest increase in funding for the California State University. His multiyear plan to provide incremental increases has brought stability to our campus’ budget-making process. However, funding for the system is close to pre-recession levels and the CSU consistently is asked to do more with less. This cannot be sustained.

“As lawmakers deliberate on the budget proposal, it is important they fully understand the demand to gain access to an affordable, high-quality college degree is outpacing state investment in the California State University. For the 2018 fall semester, Long Beach State University received a record-breaking 103,000 applications. Under this funding scenario, the campus will be forced to turn away tens of thousands of CSU-eligible students.

“As we reject qualified students, we must keep in mind the dire warning that by 2030, the state will face a shortfall of 1.1 million college-degree holders, according to the Public Policy Institute of California. In short, the economy is unforgiving to those who lack a college degree. If lawmakers truly believe in the goal to make college available to every eligible high school graduate or community college transfer student living in their districts, they will need to devise a more robust funding plan and renew the state’s commitment to fully funding public higher education, keeping it affordable and accessible to all qualified students.”

Josh Pechthalt, president, California Federation of Teachers:

“We applaud Governor Brown for fully funding the Local Control Funding Formula two years ahead of schedule. However, California continues to significantly lag the rest in the country in K-14 school funding, and we must continue to dedicate more resources to support our students and our schools in the years ahead.

“We applaud Governor Brown for following through on his commitment to fully fund AB 19. A first year of free community college for first-time students is a huge step towards ensuring that quality higher education remains affordable for all California students.”

Dean Logan, president, California Association of Clerks and Election Officials:

“We are encouraged by the Governor’s inclusion of funding for voting system upgrades and replacement in the proposed budget. It is a significant move in the right direction for the state to begin funding critical infrastructure for secure, transparent elections in California.

“It is incumbent upon counties and election officials to provide the electorate with options for voting that are responsive to voter behavior and advancements in technology. At the same time, we must be diligent and adaptive in responding to security threats and the need to appropriately protect voter data.

“The funding included in the Governor’s proposed budget signals the spirit of collaboration needed to ensure the integrity of our elections. This is an important starting point and we stand ready to work with the Governor, the Secretary of State and the Legislature to move this forward.”

Crystal Strait, president and CEO, Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California:

“Governor Jerry Brown hears us. As the federal government continues its relentless attacks on Planned Parenthood, Governor Brown is standing up and moving California forward. This budget continues to invest in quality healthcare for our nearly 800,000 patients. Governor Brown is taking bold action to expand access to health care and make our state stronger. While women’s health care is under attack, Governor Brown isn’t just defending the status quo, he’s doing even more to make sure women have access to the health care they need. Investments in family planning programs make sense for our families and save taxpayers money. We look forward to working with Gov. Brown and the Legislature throughout the budget process.”

Anthony Wright, executive director, Health Access California:

“Governor Brown and California should be proud of the progress we have made reducing our uninsured rate and providing more health and financial security for California families, and this budget should continue to take steps forward to finish the job, while fighting off Congressional cuts and caps that would take us backward.

“While California has made historic progress with the largest drop of the uninsured rate of all fifty states, too many Californians go uninsured, and still live sicker, die younger, and are one emergency from financial ruin. We can and should continue to expand Medi-Cal to cover all Californians regardless of immigration status; In our high cost-of-living state, we should also improve affordability assistance in Covered California. With comparatively modest investments, California can finish the job we started with the ACA and previous budgets to get to the universal coverage. Expanding coverage helps the health and financial security of not just the individual and family covered, but the community as a whole. Our health system is stronger when everyone is included.

“California should continue to make needed restorations and investments in Medi-Cal, a core pillar for the health system on which we all rely. We should close coverage gaps, in particular by raising the income eligibility line for the aged, blind and disabled to match the rest of the population. While we have restored vision and dental coverage, California should restore the other half-dozen benefits eliminated during the Great Recession, which include podiatry and speech therapy. The current surplus was created based on the cuts made most notably to health and human services, and as such should go to restoring benefits to our most vulnerable who have gone without for nearly a decade. We appreciate the additional tobacco tax money going to increase provider rates in Medi-Cal, but believe more should go to improve Medi-Cal, paired with accountability to ensure that patients are getting the access and quality they deserve.

“We share the Governor’s concern, if not alarm, about whether Congress will fulfill the federal government’s commitments to California. Congress needs to restore funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program and for community clinics. Key GOP leaders are suggesting massive cuts to Medicaid and Medicare, in order to pay for a tax bill that was already disproportionately devastating to California. To protect our health care, and the entire California budget in general, we need our Republican Congressional delegation to represent their constituents in California. We need to protect Medicaid at the federal level and prioritize and invest in our state version, Medi-Cal, which covers over 14 million Californians, including over a third of the state, half of all children, and two-thirds of nursing home residents.”

Daniel Zingale, senior vice president, The California Endowment:

“We want to thank Governor Brown for recognizing the importance of a complete Census count in California. The Census will have tremendous implications for the health and well-being of all Californians, particularly those in immigrant and other vulnerable communities. Governor Brown clearly recognizes the challenges coming from the federal level and has laid out a spending plan that positions our state as a continued leader in health, equity and justice.”

Joint statement from American Heart Association, Agricultural Council of California, Clean Water Action, Community Water Center, Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability, The Water Foundation and California Water Service:

“We applaud the Governor’s commitment as outlined in his January proposed budget to finally provide clean and safe drinking water to up to the one million Californians without it. For too long this has been a disgraceful reality in the richest state in the nation. We appreciate the Governor’s commitment to creating a new program to end toxic taps in our state as well as nearly $5 million start-up funds. We urge the Legislature to join together in this effort to finally guarantee safe and affordable drinking water, this year, for all our fellow Californians.”

Billy Kobin: 916-321-1860, @Billy_Kobin

Related stories from Sacramento Bee