By Kevin Yamamura
Published: Thursday, Nov. 8, 2012 – 12:00 am | Page 1A
One of the darkest hours of California’s budget dysfunction came in February 2009, when lawmakers slumbered on chairs and under desks in the Capitol as leaders attempted to break a stalemate through physical exhaustion.
Gov. Jerry Brown and fellow Democrats hoped Wednesday that such days were long behind them after voters approved more than $6 billion in annual tax increases and appeared to put their party in the historic position of having two-thirds control of both houses.
In the short term, the passage of Proposition 30 has the greatest impact on state spending. K-12 districts will not eliminate weeks out of the current school year as had been discussed.
The University of California will hold tuition level through the year, while the California State University system will issue $250 refunds for the fall semester and lower tuition by the same amount in the spring.
Voter approval of Proposition 30 also averted cuts to services for the developmentally disabled, park rangers and lifeguards.
Proposition 30, which passed 54 percent to 46 percent, will provide several billion dollars annually for the state budget through 2018-19 by raising income taxes on top earners and sales taxes by a quarter-cent on the dollar.
Because of the tax increases and an expected improvement in the economy, state general fund revenues are projected to grow 16.5 percent, from $95.9 billion to $113.6 billion, over the next three fiscal years.
Voters also approved a corporate tax measure, Proposition 39, to raise an additional $1 billion for the state budget and clean energy programs annually.
It remains unclear whether the cash infusion will simply allow the state to hold the line or also begin reversing cuts made since the recession began.
Either way, virtually every constituency that has faced reductions is expected to lobby for more money.
That means Medi-Cal subscribers who lost dental care, in-home care workers who lost hours and low-income college students who faced grant cuts. It means K-12 school districts that want to shrink class sizes and restore a week of school.
“There will probably be some pent-up pressure from policy advocates related to the cuts they’ve made,” said Gabriel Petek, a California analyst with ratings agency Standard & Poor’s.
Education lobbyist Bob Blattner said K-12 districts are likely to respond based on their own needs. One district may hire teachers and reduce some class sizes. Another may extend the school year. And another may focus on pre-kindergarten or after-school programs.
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