The governor uses line-item vetoes to eliminate 14,000 children from a care program, reduce Cal Grants college scholarships and trim state park funding.

 

By Chris Megerian and Michael J. Mishak, Los Angeles Times
June 29, 2012

SACRAMENTO — Gov. Jerry Brown sliced $195.7 million from the budget that lawmakers sent him, disappointing fellow Democrats by taking money from child care, college scholarships and state parks and adding more to a rainy-day fund.

In a series of line-item vetoes detailed Thursday, Brown brought general fund spending to $91.3 billion and the overall state budget, including dedicated funds and bond money, to $142.4 billion.

The governor did not explain his vetoes publicly. His finance director, Ana Matosantos, said he wanted a larger reserve to cushion the state against any financial turbulence in the coming fiscal year, which begins Sunday.

Although Brown reduced some park funds, officials said state operations would cease as of Sunday at only five of the 70 properties originally proposed for closure. Agreements with private donors, nonprofits and other government agencies will keep 40 of the natural and historic sites open; 25 others will continue operating as more funding agreements are negotiated.

The vetoes came with little fanfare, capping a tense budget process during which Democratic lawmakers resisted some of the deepest social services cuts the governor requested. He signed 27 budget bills late Wednesday in an outdoor courtyard at the Capitol, with a few aides and two photographers present.

Brown issued a statement saying, “This budget reflects tough choices that will help get California back on track.”

Democratic lawmakers had hoped he would leave their spending plan intact after weeks of negotiations, and they called his vetoes “disappointing,” “gratuitous” and “unnecessary.”

“We moved extremely far to get a budget that reflected his position,” said Assembly Budget Chairman Bob Blumenfield (D-Woodland Hills). “There’s no way I’m happy about it.”

In particular, Blumenfield criticized Brown’s decision to cut state-funded scholarships known as Cal Grants by 5% in the upcoming academic year for new and continuing students at private colleges. The budget plan finalized by the Legislature on Wednesday would have cut scholarships only for new students starting the following year.

Financial aid will also be reduced for some students using Cal Grants at public colleges.

Brown’s vetoes bring the state’s reserve fund to $948 million, more than the $788 million included in the budget that lawmakers sent to him. Democratic legislators have insisted that the money is better used to prevent more severe cuts in social services.

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) said he disagreed with the governor’s extra cuts, but noted: “It could have been worse.” He said Democratic lawmakers hadn’t reached any “ironclad agreement” to prevent line-item vetoes.

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