Capitol Alert

Analyst calls Jerry Brown’s budget ‘prudent’

Gov. Jerry Brown carries notebook paper outlining his proposed 2016-17 state budget after a news conference at the California State Capitol Thursday, Jan. 7, 2016, in Sacramento, Calif.
Gov. Jerry Brown carries notebook paper outlining his proposed 2016-17 state budget after a news conference at the California State Capitol Thursday, Jan. 7, 2016, in Sacramento, Calif. rbyer@sacbee.com

The Legislature’s nonpartisan fiscal analyst on Monday called Gov. Jerry Brown’s latest budget proposal a “prudent” spending plan, while arguing he may underestimate the amount of available revenue.

The review follows Thursday’s release of a $170.6 billion state spending plan that includes increases in school funding but rejects calls for more robust, permanent spending increases in social service programs.

The budget proposal, touching off months of negotiations at the Capitol, includes several hundred million dollars in one-time spending and diverts several billion dollars into reserves.

In its overview of the plan, the Legislative Analyst’s Office said Brown’s “emphasis on reserves is appropriate.”

“We believe this general approach is prudent as a large budget reserve is the key to weathering the next recession with minimal disruption to public programs,” the LAO said. While California has enjoyed “remarkable economic growth over the past year,” the LAO said, the state “may be reaching the peak of a long economic expansion.”

Budget talks in recent years have been characterized by disagreement between Brown and lawmakers over revenue estimates, with the governor typically offering more cautious projections than the Democratic-controlled Legislature.

On Monday, the LAO said Brown’s estimates for local property tax revenue are about $1 billion too low over a two-year period.

David Siders: 916-321-1215, @davidsiders

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