Schools

By Judy Lin, Associated Press
May 10, 2015

Lawmakers expect Gov. Jerry Brown to suggest spending more tax dollars on public schools and community colleges while asking for more money to be set aside for a rainy day when he releases his updated budget this week.

But with a growing $3 billion surplus, Democrats who control the Legislature will jockey to increase funding for child care, higher education and other social programs.

Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins said those areas have suffered spending cuts over the last decade and while lawmakers “know we’re not going to get everything we want,” she and other Democratic leaders “expect good news.”

Brown already has proposed a record $113 billion general fund spending plan, but he’s revising that upward as the state has collected more revenue.

California’s budget has benefited from the recovering economy and temporary tax increases. It’s not clear if that boost will continue, since much of it has come from taxes on capital gains and large corporate bonuses.

And as the state takes drastic steps to conserve water amid the ongoing drought, Brown could propose higher spending to expand water supplies and fight wildfires.

Already this year, the Democratic governor has signed emergency legislation authorizing $1 billion for water infrastructure, including flood control and water recycling, and other programs.

Senate Democrats now are pushing Brown to spend more on water delivery upgrades and wastewater reuse. Republicans want to speed dam construction.

In addition to water spending, Atkins anticipates about $1 billion in extra discretionary spending that could go toward social programs.

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