Capitol Alert
The latest on California politics and government
January 5, 2012

California’s top Senate Democrat today shut the door on Gov. Jerry Brown’s budget proposal to make deep cuts to social services programs in the first few months of the year.

The January spending plan unveiled by Brown today includes nearly $1.4 billion in cuts to the state’s welfare-to-work and subsidized child care programs. The Democratic governor called on lawmakers to approve those cuts in March to maximize savings.

But Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, echoing comments made Wednesday, said he wants to hold off on further spending reductions in hopes that the state will see an uptick in revenues this spring.

“Why would we make cuts that are going to harm people and harm the economy in March when in fact in May there’s a real not just possibility, but if the trend continues, a probability that the deficit number is going to be less,” the Sacramento Democrat told reporters, pointing to improvement in a revenue forecast made in December.

Brown’s plan relies on a mix of roughly $4.2 billion in cuts and the passage of a $6.9 million tax measure he is seeking to qualify for the November ballot in order to close what he estimated to be a $9.2 billion budget deficit through June 2013. He proposed deeper cuts to K-12 and higher education if that measure fails.

Steinberg emphasized that the plan Brown unveiled today is just the first draft of a 2012-2013 spending plan.

“It’s a January budget, and a … June 15 budget, by definition, historically looks nothing like a January budget,” he said.

Steinberg characterized Brown’s call for additional cuts if voters fail to approve his tax measure in November as a “sound” approach but signaled that the Legislature might look at other areas for those spending reductions.

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