Capitol Alert

California legislative budget to increase by 4.55 percent

Gov. Jerry Brown, center, flanked by Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, and Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, walks to a news conference to announce a 2015-16 budget agreement last week. The package includes 4.55 percent increases in the Assembly and Senate budgets
Gov. Jerry Brown, center, flanked by Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, and Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, walks to a news conference to announce a 2015-16 budget agreement last week. The package includes 4.55 percent increases in the Assembly and Senate budgets rbyer@sacbee.com

California’s legislative branch will be among the beneficiaries of the $115.4 billion general fund spending plan on Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk, with both houses receiving funding increases nearly 10 times last year’s rate.

In the case of the Senate, the 4.55 percent increase – from $116.25 million in 2014-15 to $121.54 million in 2015-16 – will help solve internal budget problems that led to the layoffs of more than three-dozen employees last November. Senate officials said at the time that the upper house faced an imbalance of $3 million to $4 million.

“In combination with last year’s workforce restructuring, the Senate’s budget is now in balance,” Claire Conlon, a spokeswoman for Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, said Monday.

In the Assembly, the 4.55 percent budget bump – from $153.17 million in 2014-15 to $160.14 million in 2015-16 – will be the Assembly’s largest increase since before the recession.

Under the 1990 ballot measure that imposed legislative term limits, Assembly and Senate budgets are linked to a constitutional formula known as the state appropriations limit. The formula reflects changes in personal income, population and school attendance and can vary widely from year to year. For 2014-15, the SAL was just 0.48 percent.

During some years during the recession, one or both houses took a smaller share of their allowable increase. The Assembly also shifted some of its money to the state arts council, military-related expenses and other programs, transfers which recently stopped..

The totals for both houses include about $4 million apiece to pay for the Legislative Analyst’s Office, which provides nonpartisan information about state finances and programs.

But the Legislature’s appropriation does not reflect the cost of the 630-person Legislative Counsel’s Office, which writes the bills lawmakers carry. The counsel’s office received a 2015-16 appropriation of $78.5 million, the same as for the year ending June 30.

Click here to see an interactive chart of legislative budget appropriations since 2005.//

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