By Chris Megerian
June 24, 2015
Gov. Jerry Brown signed a new $167.6-billion budget Wednesday that expands child care, boosts funding for public schools and opens the state’s public healthcare program to children in the country illegally, but leaves some key issues unresolved.
The new spending plan includes a $115.4-billion general fund and takes effect July 1. It is a compromise between Brown and Democratic lawmakers, who were able to secure increased funds for some government services, though not as much as they wanted.
“The governor’s signature is the next step for a prudent and progressive budget that will make California a better place to live, work and play,” Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) said in a statement.
As part of the agreement, an estimated 170,000 immigrants 18 or younger could qualify for Medi-Cal, the state’s public healthcare program, for the first time. The expansion is scheduled to begin in May and is expected to cost $132 million annually.
“For a relatively small investment, every child in every California classroom and playground will now have access to care and coverage,” Anthony Wright, executive director of the advocacy organization Health Access California, said in a statement. “We all benefit from that.”
The budget also includes a $380-million earned income tax credit, which could be used by an estimated 825,000 poor families to keep more of their paychecks.
The average qualifying household is expected to gain $460 a year. The maximum credit, for families with three or more children, is $2,653.
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