Taxes

By Jim Miller and David Siders
jmiller@sacbee.com
Published: Thursday, Jun. 12, 2014 – 11:16 pm

Two years after Gov. Jerry Brown first proposed using carbon-reduction revenue to prop up California’s beleaguered high-speed rail project, Brown and legislative leaders reached budget agreements Thursday that include the controversial funding plan, as well as money to pay overtime for in-home supportive services and increase welfare-to-work grants.

The agreements are part of an overall budget pact that came into sharper focus Thursday, with Brown and legislative leaders compromising on several “triggers” for more spending if revenue exceeds the governor’s expectations in the upcoming fiscal year. Many Democratic lawmakers had criticized him for projections they said were too conservative.

The Legislature’s budget conference committee met for a second straight night, acting on multiple spending items. Yet the Democratic governor continued to meet privately with Assembly and Senate leaders ahead of expected floor votes in both houses Sunday, the constitutional deadline to pass a budget bill.

“We are at this point prepared to bring the full budget to the floors of both houses,” Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, who led the conference committee, said late Thursday as the panel finished voting, saying the package “has some very smart investments for California.”

In a key resolution, Brown and Democratic lawmakers agreed to use $250 million in cap-and-trade revenue – money polluters pay to offset carbon emissions – to fund construction of California’s $68 billion rail project this year, with 25 percent of carbon emission funds going to the project in future years.

The amount falls short of the 33 percent Brown initially wanted, but is more than Senate Democrats proposed. Environmentalists and Republicans immediately criticized the plan, which is almost certain to be challenged in court.

Overtime for workers in the In-Home Supportive Services program had been another budget sticking point.

Brown’s $107.8 billion general fund plan prohibited home-care providers from working overtime, with the goal of preventing payments required by federal regulations set to take effect next January. The administration warned in January that the overtime rule could increase home-care costs by more than $600 million by June 2016.

To read entire story, click here.