Capitol Alert

Rapid response: Gov. Jerry Brown’s budget plan

Gov. Jerry Brown unveils his 2015-16 state budget on Jan. 9, 2015 at the Capitol in Sacramento, Ca.
Gov. Jerry Brown unveils his 2015-16 state budget on Jan. 9, 2015 at the Capitol in Sacramento, Ca. The Sacramento Bee

Here are early reviews of Gov. Jerry Brown’s budget plan for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, D-San Diego

“The governor has given us a realistic and practical starting point for the budget process. I’m pleased the budget includes several Assembly priorities, including increasing funding for schools and community colleges, keeping UC affordable and focused on California students, increasing workforce development for Californians struggling to make it into the middle class, and restoring the IHSS program that helps keep vulnerable Californians out of institutions. Assembly Budget Chair Shirley Weber and the Assembly Budget Committee will move the process forward and I am confident that by summer we will have a spending plan that balances our resources with California’s needs and aspirations. I have no doubt that we will deliver an on-time, prudent, effective budget just as we have the past four years.”

Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles

“The California economy has proven its resiliency because of the hard work and perseverance of the people in our great state. Today’s budget proposal from Governor Brown is the first step in his discussion with the Legislature about how to keep the California economy moving forward and making sure its growth reaches families that are still struggling. This will require better investment in education at all levels, protecting the safety net, and providing the funding to continue building the low-carbon economy of tomorrow. I look forward to negotiating how to best accomplish this in the most fiscally responsible way over the next six months.”

Janet Napolitano, president, University of California

“The proposal that Governor Brown released today is only the first step in the process of enacting a state budget. While we are disappointed the governor did not include sufficient revenue to expand enrollment of California students and reinvest in academic quality at the university, we are hopeful that continued discussions with the governor and the legislature will yield a budget that maintains the access, affordability and excellence for which the University of California is renowned. The number of state students applying for 2015 admission to UC marked the 11th consecutive year of record high numbers of applicants, with California’s growing Latino population making up the largest group at 32.5 percent. We view all this as both a testament to the university’s value and an urgent call to our state leaders to support public higher education. Public universities require public support. On a per-student basis, the state is paying far less than it did in 1991 – from about $18,000 in 1991 to $8,000 today, in 2014-15 dollars. The university is receiving $460 million less in funding from the state than it did in 2007, even as it educates thousands more California students. These are the realities that drove the regents’ tuition decision and the key facts that should underlie our continued work with Sacramento. We understand that this is not a one-way street, nor should it be. UC has cut costs, generated new revenue, bolstered efficiencies and achieved significant savings. It also has continued its world-leading research upon which much of California’s economy depends, and which yields significant funds in the form of federal research grants. In the end, the University of California is an investment in California’s future. We look forward to continued productive discussions with the governor and the legislature so that the next generation of Californians has the same higher education opportunity as those in the past.”

Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco

“Today’s budget proposal shows that California’s financial situation continues to improve under the stewardship of this Governor and Legislature. Difficult spending cuts, temporary taxes approved by voters and a healthier economy have all contributed to California’s ongoing fiscal recovery. Our unemployment rate has improved, revenues exceed expectations, the wall of debt is significantly reduced and we have a Rainy Day Fund to protect us against future economic downturns. In recent years we have also made modest reinvestments in education, improved access to pre-Kindergarten and expanded child care opportunities that help keep parents employed. Unfortunately, despite our successes, much of the state’s economic gain has not been as widespread as it could be. The devastating budget cuts from years past have left many of the neediest Californians – working families, students, children, the disabled and elderly – without critical assistance. We must continue to evaluate which of our General Fund programs and services are most effective and reinvest in them wisely and in a way that benefits Californians who are in the greatest need. The best investments are those that respond to the critical needs of families at the bottom of the economic ladder and provide working people access to education, training and other programs that can help them get ahead. We can make these reinvestments while at the same time preserving the budget stability we have worked hard to achieve, moving California away from a destructive cycle of cutting and borrowing. We have an opportunity and obligation to utilize these good years to create permanent solutions that will keep California growing. I look forward to working together with the Governor, my colleagues in both houses and the people of California to fully analyze this budget proposal and deliver an on-time fiscal plan that sensibly invests in our state’s future.”

Assembly Republican Leader Kristin Olsen, R-Modesto

“Assembly Republicans stand ready to work with Governor Brown on policies that will improve California’s long-term fiscal health. I was pleased to see the Governor focus on paying down costly debt and building a strong Rainy Day Fund reserve. However, I am disappointed that his budget does not include a plan for economic growth. Jobs and the economy must be a budget priority to generate the revenue needed to fund great schools and invest in infrastructure – now and in the future. Republicans will fight hard to ensure the voter-approved education tax is spent how they intended – on making college accessible and affordable for California students. While I fully support prioritizing education in the state budget, increased funding should be tied to serious reforms that will provide each and every one of our kids a high-quality education. We need to dedicate resources toward fixing the problems that continue to place us at the bottom of education outcomes nationwide. I am also hopeful that we can work together to put an end to the days of state budgets being written behind closed doors. We must make our budget process more open so Californians can have a say in how their tax dollars are being spent.”

Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez, R-Lake Elsinore

“Assembly Republicans are pleased Governor Brown agrees with our position and made paying down the state’s unfunded liabilities a top budget priority. As voters recently approved the new Rainy Day Fund championed by Republicans, the Legislature should seize the opportunity to create a substantial reserve. Reducing debt and saving for the future will protect funding priorities for Californians in the next recession. It is good news that California’s economy continues to recover and tax revenue is growing. I am disappointed the Governor’s budget proposes new mandates and continues to spend cap-and-trade taxes, paid by employers, to fund high-speed rail. Our focus should be on growing the economy and investing in job-creating projects to improve our schools, roads, and water infrastructure for all Californians. I caution Democrats not to go on a spending spree that will bring back the annual deficits that hurt Californians. For our part, Republicans will champion the budget priorities of Californians – protecting classroom dollars, keeping higher education affordable, and safeguarding public safety funding. We stand ready to work with the Governor and legislative Democrats to pass the balanced budget Californians expect.”

Assemblyman Kevin McCarty, D-Sacramento

“I am pleased with the Governor’s proposed budget blue print. The Governor’s focus is rightly on fiscal prudence, but also significantly reinvests in education from K-12, community colleges, and our higher education institutions. This framework is a good starting point for the Legislature to engage the administration and I look forward to working with the Governor on these issues and others, particularly increasing access for low income families to preschool.”

Assemblyman Jim Cooper, D-Elk Grove

“The Governor’s proposed $2,600 per student funding increase is great news for California’s kids. All students, no matter their socioeconomic status or their school district, deserve the best chance for a successful life and access to high quality education. Additionally, increasing workforce training and keeping college affordable are key as our economy continues to recover. I am encouraged by the Governor’s plan to reduce our debt, prefund retiree health care liabilities, and continue to build our rainy day fund, allowing us to plan for any unforeseen economic downturn and stabilize our fiscal future. Nonetheless, I plan to work with my colleagues to prudently examine restoring cuts to vital social services for our most vulnerable, at-risk populations.”

Mary Erchul, president, American Council of Engineering Companies

“We have been talking about infrastructure funding problems for years, and we applaud Governor Brown’s continual support of long-term investment. Governor Brown has put forth the beginning of a solid spending plan, and ACEC California is eager to work with him and his administration to build a better California.”

Assemblyman Matthew Harper, R-Huntington Beach

“The Governor’s Budget is far from perfect, but I applaud his stated commitment to addressing California’s long-term liabilities. My job going forward will be to hold him accountable to that promise and to protect California’s hard-working taxpayers. In this year’s budget, we must make K-12 and higher education funding a top priority. For too long, we’ve seen Prop. 30 education tax dollars spent on projects that have nothing to do with education. As a result, UC Irvine students are now facing a tuition hike. This must stop. We must make sure these dollars go to the classroom, preserve college accessibility, and make tuition more affordable. Sacramento must also make job creation and growing the economy one of its top budget priorities. We need a pro-growth agenda that is focused on making it easier to do business and create jobs here in California.”

David Miller, president, California Association of Professional Scientists

“CAPS looks forward to working with Governor Brown in the year ahead. California taxpayers rely on state scientists to ensure public health, protect natural resources and prevent air and water pollution. Taxpayers deserve excellence in public service, and that includes the best science. We will consider all proposals from the Governor, including how to best address the long-standing problem of unfunded liability for state retiree health benefits. We will ask him to provide salary equity for all state scientists.”

Assemblyman Frank Bigelow, R-O’Neals

“While I applaud the Governor for listening to Californians’ call for fiscal restraint and for prioritizing funding for our K-12 schools and higher education institutions, we must stop the wasteful spending on the High Speed Rail boondoggle. Our focus must be on our young people’s future educational success and not on a train to nowhere. It is also critical that rural California’s needs are met in this budget. Many parts of rural California still face inadequate healthcare options, underfunded schools and limited public safety resources. I am committed to working with my colleagues to ensure rural California’s working families are not shortchanged in this year’s budget.”

Sen. Tony Mendoza, D-Artesia

“The governor’s budget proposal maintains a prudent and responsible approach to state spending. It includes increased funding for education, public safety and implementing healthcare reform while paying down the state’s debt and funding the rainy day fund. Providing an affordable quality public education for our children is vital to our state’s long term future and economic prosperity. I am extremely pleased that the governor’s proposal increases investments in our state’s children by budgeting more than $8 billion for K-12, CSU, UC and community college education funding, while preventing tuition increases. Additionally, I welcome the governor’s proposal to work with the legislature to address the state’s critical and long overdue infrastructure needs. I look forward to working with the governor and my colleagues in a bi-partisan effort to approve the budget by our constitutional deadline and continue solving California’s challenges in the year ahead and serve the people of California.”

Brice W. Harris, chancellor, California Community Colleges

“Gov. Brown’s budget proposal for community colleges is the best our system has seen in years. It proposes additional funding that will make seats available for 45,000 more students. Once again, the governor’s plan endorses the work we are doing to improve completion rates, close achievement gaps and make workforce training even more responsive to the needs of our economy. At the same time, the budget provides a bold plan to lift thousands of Californians out of poverty by reshaping and reinvesting in adult education programs that serve the neediest residents.”

Tom Torlakson, California superintendent of public instruction

“This budget gets an ‘A’ for K-14 education. Governor Jerry Brown clearly did his homework researching the needs and priorities of schools and proposing to allocate money to meet many of those needs. The extra money under Proposition 98 is good news for schools across the state. I am also very pleased with the additional funds to help maintain and expand career technical education programs; implement the Local Control Funding Formula and the rigorous new California state standards in mathematics, English language arts, and science; upgrade technology and connect schools to the Internet; and maintain adult education programs across the state. I applaud the governor for outlining a plan that can help bring needed funds to help improve and repair broken and outdated school facilities. This budget increases our investment in schools, but we still have a long way to go. California is 46th in the nation in per-pupil spending and that is unacceptable. My homework is to work with the Governor, the Legislature, educators, and community leaders across the state to help refine these education spending proposals and increase and stabilize school funding in the long term.”

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego

“One of the most quotable moments of Governor’s budget press conference today was in response to a question on extending the state’s sales and use taxes to services, to which Gov. Brown responded that Californians would not be ‘yoga happy’ if their Pilates classes were taxed. That’s probably true. But, our budget is a moral document and should prioritize needs over wants. That’s why I will be introducing a bill in the coming weeks to move diapers into the category of things that aren’t taxed, like food, pharmaceuticals, and even Pilates.”

Assemblyman Travis Allen, R-Huntington Beach

“Looking over the Governor’s proposed (2015-16) Budget, there are positive aspects such as maintaining a rainy day fund and beginning to address our state’s massive $73 billion unfunded healthcare liability for state workers. I am disappointed however, though not surprised, that the Governor proposes to increase overall state spending by another 5 percent this year. This proposed budget increase means that spending under the current Administration has gone up over 30 percent in the last five years. To pay for these continually increasing state budgets, California taxpayers are paying the highest tax rates in the country, and by extension California is consistently ranked among the worst states for new business creation and job growth. While Governor Brown continues to deliver feel good sound bites about California’s fiscal situation, companies and individuals are leaving our state in record numbers for states like Texas, Nevada, Arizona and Colorado that have lower tax structures and prioritize business friendly policies which raise the standard of living for their residents. Unfortunately, there seems to be no effort to address the core issues of reining in government expansion, improving the business climate, and lowering taxes. Instead of taking substantive steps to “open California for business”, Governor Brown is taking $1 billion out of the AB 32 cap-and-trade funds and spending it on his political agenda, which includes the highly unpopular and unnecessary high speed rail project. I look forward to finding constructive ways to work with the Governor and my colleagues in the Legislature to revitalize California’s economy. As budget negotiations progress, I will continue to fight for lower taxes and less government spending that will positively impact job creation and raise the standard of living for all Californians.”

Jonathan Lightman, executive director, Faculty Association of California Community Colleges

“Following years of painful budget cuts, Governor Brown is prioritizing community college funding as one of the state’s most vital investments. FACCC looks forward to working with the Governor, Legislature and other community college system partners on assuring that the faculty voice is heard in the budget process and faculty priorities are addressed.”

Kathryn Lybarger, president of AFSCME 3299 - representing University of California employees

“The release of Governor Brown’s January budget is the beginning of a long overdue conversation about the future of California’s public colleges and universities. While this initial proposal does not provide the funding or institutional reforms needed to prevent tuition hikes, improve access or increase quality, we stand ready to work with the Governor, the Legislature and University Administrators in developing a final budget that can. This is not just a question of more money from the state or only more accountability from University Administrators. It is both. And we are committed to doing our part to help bridge that gap.”

Assemblyman Chris Holden, D-Pasadena

“I echo the Governor Brown’s sentiment that ‘self-discipline and real prudence’ are essential to keep our budget balanced and maintain the progress California has seen in the past few years. I thank the Governor for his leadership on the Rainy Day Fund and for following through on his promises to voters by saving $2.4 billion for future economic downturns. This budget includes big gains for public education. I am very pleased to see $7.8 billion in new funding for K-12 education and California’s community colleges. Although I had hoped the Governor would be able to give the University of California a larger budget increase, $120 million in additional funding is significant. The Cal State University system will get a similar amount. I remain committed to making college more affordable. As a former mayor and city councilmember I am pleased to see Governor Brown paying back $533 million to local governments. This money will have a direct benefit to all Californians by improving local services and ensuring local governments can meet their obligations. And, after years of neglect I am glad that Governor Brown is now willing to have a conversation about reinvesting in our state’s infrastructure. I stand ready, willing and able to have that conversation with the Governor and my Legislative colleagues and draft a workable infrastructure plan to rebuild California’s infrastructure, create jobs and put California’s economy on track for sustained growth. The Governor’s proposed budget puts California on solid ground to continue to build up reserves while investing in a growing economy. I look forward to working with the Governor and the Assembly to produce a workable budget.”

George Runner, member, Board of Equalization

“Today the Governor released a budget that reflects his priorities. I’m encouraged by his continued commitment to pay down debt and phase out Proposition 30’s temporary tax increases. But at its core, the Governor’s budget grows state government spending to record levels. I’m concerned that tax-and-spend legislators will push for even more spending, taxes and regulations that will rob Californians of freedom and jobs. Republicans must resist the siren song to grow big government even bigger. Instead, we must offer compelling free-market alternatives that prioritize jobs, education and public safety.”

Brian D. Chase, president, Consumer Attorneys of California

“This is another positive step toward returning the courts to stable footing and the level of funding required to assure all Californians of access to justice... The reality is the massive cuts to trial courts sank this cornerstone of democracy into an incredibly deep hole. As a result consumers still face barriers to their constitutional right to their day in court when they have been harmed or cheated. There is hard work remaining, and we look forward to joining Gov. Brown and Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye and getting it done.”

Vito Chiesa, president, California State Association of Counties

“There are thousands of competing needs in California. We appreciate the Governor listening to our voice and shaping a budget in that considers counties’ views. He understands the importance and benefits of paying down the debt owed to California counties; that money flows into local programs that help Californians in very real ways.”

Laphonza Butler, president, Service Employees International Union

“With the leadership of Governor Brown and the deep sacrifice of millions of Californians, we have taken great strides to put our state on a path to a better future since the depths of the Great Recession with greater investments in education and healthcare. But the 700,000 members of the Service Employees International Union in California do not accept a new status quo that allows one in four Californians to live in poverty. Together, we call on the Governor and Legislative leaders to make 2015 the year California examines the roots of our poverty crisis and forges the solutions needed – from birth to bedside – to renew the California dream for every person in our state. While the governor’s budget proposal raises ‘Addressing Poverty and Inequality’ as a priority, it calls for little critical analysis and leaves virtually no hope for the Californians who live the reality of poverty every day: single mothers struggling to access child care, low-wage workers scrambling to put food on the table, and caregivers barely able to keep their families afloat. For these struggling Californians, the size of the cracks in the safety net is the only thing ‘extensive’ about it. In this his last and historic term, the Governor, and our state legislative leaders, have a rare opportunity to chart a bold and prosperous path for ALL of California. This means investing in essential services and people at every stage of life – from ensuring every young person has the early education needed to thrive in school and life to ensuring our elderly can live with dignity.”

Assemblyman Henry T. Perea, D-Fresno

“While California’s economic outlook has vastly improved over the last few years, it is our responsibility to maintain long term fiscal stability while continuing to stimulate the economy. Governor Brown has proposed a balanced plan for paying down debt, while prioritizing a spending plan in key areas like water infrastructure and climate change that impact all of our communities. I applaud Governor Brown for promptly moving forward with a plan for Proposition 1 funding (water bond) to deliver clean drinking water and create water infrastructure jobs. I look forward to working closely with the Governor to ensure funding gets out the door quickly and the money is spent where the voters intended. The proposal reaffirms providing 25% of cap-and-trade funding to disadvantage communities. Now it’s time to work together to ensure funding goes to the communities that need it the most and are most severely impacted by carbon emissions. In an effort to improve air quality, a plan to deploy clean vehicle technology and find long term transportation funding for roads will serve California well. Additionally the California Department of Food & Agriculture will receive $15 million to focus on Agriculture Energy and Operational Efficiency to assist farmers in complying with AB 32 mandates to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. I look forward to working on the budget in the coming months with the Central Valley delegation to ensure growth and economic stability in our communities.”

Sen. Jeff Stone, R-Temecula

“The growing cost of unfunded public employee pensions and retiree health care obligations need to continue to be addressed and not left as a burden for our future generations. I am also eager to work with the governor to fix our crumbling roads, bridges and highways. CEQA is a well-intentioned law that is consistently abused, and I am hopeful the Governor and my colleagues in the Legislature will come together to enact reasonable and meaningful reforms that will put people back to work while also protecting our environment.”

Assemblywoman Nora Campos, D-San Jose

“Governor Brown has shown true leadership in putting California on a sound fiscal footing – and deserves credit for a job well done. Today, the governor has once again proposed a budget that seeks to balance the need for long-term fiscal prudence with investments in schools and infrastructure. The question is whether our priority should be remaining cautious about new spending and paying down debt – even while communities that are poor in resources still have many unmet needs. With revenues up, I believe we must begin to re-focus on helping families and individuals who have been left behind in California’s recovery. For too many, middle class jobs are still hard to find and too many families are still struggling. As a member of the Assembly Budget committee, I intend to carefully look for opportunities where we can bring hope to people’s lives with job creation, by closing the achievement gap, and pushing for economic and social justice wherever I can.”

Assemblyman Rich Gordon, D-Menlo Park

“In just four years, California eliminated unprecedented budget deficits, achieved financial stability and has prepared for future economic downturns. It is now time to carefully reinvest in education, restore social services funding and address the unfunded liabilities that threaten our long-term fiscal health.I applaud the Governor’s commitment to paying down our debt and bolstering reserve funds. These responsible budgetary actions will help California remain fiscally sound and prepare for future recessions. I am thrilled to see that this Budget continues the process of reinvesting in our public education system, which took the largest cuts during the Great Recession. Under the new fairer funding system, this money will be directed to California’s neediest children. While these investments are significant, I caution that we must not stop here. Our schools need continued long-term investments and additional funding commitments to improve educational outcomes. Like the Governor, I remain deeply concerned that the burden of rising higher education costs is being disproportionately placed on our students. I am pleased to see the Governor’s creation of an advisory committee to avoid potentially significant tuition increases for University of California (UC) students. It is my hope that we can work collaboratively with the UC administration to find areas where cuts can be made, while preserving the quality of a UC education. I applaud the Governor’s commitment to addressing our unfunded liabilities. These liabilities, including pensions, health care costs and deferred infrastructure maintenance, far exceed our budget surpluses and pose a grave threat to our delicate state of financial health. Addressing this issue will require significant compromise, but is critical to ensuring California can meet its funding obligations in the long-term. Additionally, I am pleased to see the Governor’s allocation for expanded Medi-Cal coverage, which greatly benefits low-income Californians. However, I am hopeful that we can find additional areas in the Budget where modest restorations of social services cut during the recession can be made without threatening our fiscal stability. Though California has emerged from the depths of the Great Recession, many Californians have yet to feel the benefits of our improving economy and remain in need of vital health and human services programs. I am especially pleased to see the Governor’s commitment to preparing California for the impacts of climate change, an issue I have consistently advocated for as Chair of the Select Committee on Sea Level Rise and the California Economy. As a member of the Budget Subcommittee on Transportation and Resources, I look forward to seeing more detail on the Governor’s ambitious goals to further reduce California’s carbon emissions and increase investment in renewable energy. While I am pleased to see his commitment to combatting climate change, meeting his bold objectives without harming our economy will require serious effort, innovation and compromise. As a member of the Budget Committee, I look forward to further discussing each of these issues.”

Elizabeth Goldstein, president, California State Parks Foundation

“State parks fared well in this budget proposal and we are pleased to see the era of state park closures seems to be behind us. We read the overall tone of the budget for state parks as one that anticipates state government really focusing on building a better future for our state parks. And we couldn’t agree more that a focus on that future, of truly moving our parks forward, is the collective priority for all of us in the state parks movement. CSPF is especially pleased to see the commitment for $20 million in General Fund for deferred maintenance in state parks. While it remains a drop in the bucket toward a backlog estimated at more than $1.3 billion, like a parched California during a statewide drought, we eagerly welcome those essential drops in the bucket. Especially since last year’s proposal for $40 million for deferred maintenance needs was never enacted, this proposed $20 million is critical. The state parks budget also includes a very modest increase in funding from the revenues that parks earn every year, and directs that specifically to continue existing service levels in parks. While we are very pleased this means no state park closures are on the horizon, the proposed $16 million increase is only one-time, and falls short of complete restoration of visitor services, hours of availability, and park amenities that will attract current and new visitors. The budget rightly points out that the case for a more certain and sustainable funding picture for our state parks system is needed, and we wholeheartedly agree. CSPF remains steadfastly committed to pursuing new and additional funding for our state parks system and we will continue to work with the Administration, Department, Legislature, and all our partners and stakeholders on this essential goal. The new transformation team within the Department of Parks & Recreation is another positive signal of important changes that will make the Department and the parks system better equipped to manage state parks for the future and make state parks more relevant to all Californians. CSPF has already offered our organization’s help, research, and support for the effort to the team leadership and look forward to continuing to work with them. We thank Governor Brown for a budget proposal that will now tee up important dialogue in the state Legislature about the future of our parks, and how to fund that future. We look forward to working with the governor’s office, the Legislature, the Department, and all our park partners and stakeholders to support this budget proposal and bring about positive and much-needed changes for our state parks.”

Dean Vogel, president, California Teachers Association

“The governor’s budget proposal gives us hope after learning yesterday that California ranks 46th in the nation in per-pupil funding. Even with the fruits of Prop. 30 and unprecedented revenue increases, we’re still at the bottom nationally on how much we invest in our students. We see the governor’s continued commitment to a brighter future for our state by allocating funds to repay the billions of dollars that had been cut from students, schools and colleges. Now school districts – working alongside educators, parents and communities – can continue to restore critical programs so our students have more one-on-one attention, inviting classrooms and a well-rounded curriculum. In the face of new academic standards, educators continue to do good work in our schools, and the increased funding the governor has proposed intended for the ongoing implementation of the Common Core State Standards will help support educators with training and up-to-date materials. Our college students have felt the pain of increasing tuition costs, so we commend the governor for investing in higher education and recognizing that students cannot continue to foot that bill. Educators are equally committed to their students and a brighter future for California. We look forward to working with the governor and all lawmakers for a productive legislative session that will move us in that direction.”

Luther Cobb, M.D., president, California Medical Association

In both his Inaugural address earlier this week and in today’s budget unveiling, Governor Brown has acknowledged the expansion of California’s Medicaid program, Medi-Cal. While the physicians of California applaud the extension of the program to offer health care coverage to more patients, it remains disappointing that an increase to California’s woefully inadequate Medi-Cal provider reimbursement rates was not included. With over 12 million people to be enrolled in Medi-Cal, it is more important than ever to ensure that the program is adequately equipped to handle new patients. California pays some of the nation’s lowest Medicaid reimbursement rates and in order to properly serve the poorest and most vulnerable patients among us, at a minimum, the provider cut made in 2011 needs to be restored. As the rest of the nation continues to look at California as a leader in health reform success, we cannot afford to sustain at the current provider reimbursement levels, which are roughly $16 for a regular, primary care visit. This issue is compounded by the fact that just last week, the Affordable Care Act’s bump in Medi-Cal reimbursement rates for primary care physicians ended, resulting in, on average, a 60percent decrease in reimbursement rates overnight. Many primary care physicians that were able to take on new Medi-Cal patients during that time will no longer be able to do so, despite the increase in patients and demand for care. Governor Brown’s chart clearly showed that in 2011, when cuts to Medi-Cal were made via Assembly Bill 97, the state was in dire financial times. However, not only have we recovered from those times, but California now has a budget surplus, which should be used to properly fund the program that treats patients across our state who need care the most.

Assemblyman James Gallagher, R-Yuba City

“After years of fiscal malfeasance, it is good to see the Governor calling for budgetary restraint, putting revenues away in the Rainy Day Fund, and finally addressing retiree health care liabilities which have accrued to billions of dollars. I also applaud his stand on higher education, which will help ensure that administration and pension costs are addressed in the UC budget and not placed on the backs of students in the form of higher fees. However, we cannot continue to invest, as the Governor proposes, in radical environmental policies like cap and trade and boondoggles like High Speed Rail if we want to turn the corner on the recession. These policies are driving businesses out of California and limiting opportunities for economic growth. Californians demand that we prioritize funding for real infrastructure that will make our economy stronger, our kids smarter, and our communities safer.”

Sen. Andy Vidak, R-Hanford

“The governor should be recognized for the spirit of restraint expressed in his budget proposal. Let’s hope he doesn’t cave in to the pressure from members of his party to increase spending rather than reduce the state’s wall of ‘debt.’ Keeping the state’s promise to provide affordable college education rather than giving UC executives outrageous perks is an important priority. Although I’m obviously disappointed the budget contains funding for High-Speed Rail, I look forward to working with the governor in a bipartisan fashion to hold the line on spending.”

Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis

As the Chair of the Budget Subcommittee on Resources, Environmental Protection, Energy and Transportation, I am pleased that the Governor’s budget prioritizes significant investment in water and flood management. The current drought demonstrates the need to invest in reliable, climate-resilient water supplies to sustain our economy, communities and ecosystems. I look forward to working to ensure we quickly leverage limited Proposition 1 funding to maximize benefits for California. In addition, I am committed to working with the Administration and local governments to develop the necessary governance structure and technical expertise to deliver safe drinking water to small disadvantaged communities. The Governor’s budget also provides sufficient funding to maintain existing service levels at state parks throughout the state and $20 million to address deferred maintenance issues at these parks. Money is provided to the Department of Fish and Wildlife for the first time since 2002 for in-lieu fee payments to counties to compensate local governments for the property tax revenue associated with the Department’s wildlife management areas. In addition, the budget proposes the reestablishment of a fee on hazardous materials transported by railroad tank cars throughout California which will allow the Office of Emergency Services to coordinate with local agencies to better prepare for, and respond to, emergencies involving hazardous materials transported by railroad tank cars traveling thru my Senate district. In education, the news for our schools is generally positive. Statewide, the Governor proposes that the schools receive one-time money to settle past debts from the state, an increase in their traditional Prop 98 funding stream, and elimination of budgetary deferrals ensuring that schools receive all of their resources on time. I am also pleased that the Governor is willing to engage with local school districts on the school district reserve cap; and with the University of California on affordability, access, and further investment in higher education. I applaud the Governor for building the state’s reserve, while strengthening the safety net for the state’s most vulnerable residents and reinvesting in the courts. I look forward to working on this budget with the Governor and my colleagues on the Budget Committee.”

Editor’s Note: This post was updated at 9:02 a.m. Jan. 10 to correct the name of Jonathan Lightman’s organization, the Faculty Association of California Community Colleges.

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