Capitol Alert
By Jim Miller and Christopher Cadelago
jmiller@sacbee.com
May 11, 2017 – 10:45 AM

California Gov. Jerry Brown released a revised, $180 billion budget proposal Thursday that closely mirrors his January plan, maintaining a cautious approach amid uncertainty about the direction of the economy and possible federal actions that could hurt the state’s bottom line.

Thursday’s revised plan follows disappointing revenue numbers for April, the state’s biggest tax filing month, but reflects a $2.5 billion uptick in estimated revenue through June 2018 compared to Brown’s January package. It puts $400 million into easing the burden on counties to pay for home-care services while pulling back on an earlier proposal to freeze child-care provider rates. It also links more money for the University of California to the system’s acting on recommendations in a scathing state audit.

Yet much uncertainty remains, Brown told reporters at the Capitol. The economy’s direction is unclear, and Republicans continue to pursue efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, change tax law and take other actions that could hit the state hard.

“The world of Washington is changing by the hour. It’s very hard to predict what they will do. But we’ve got to be wary and prudent,” Brown said, warning about the economy: “Make no doubt about it, cuts are coming in the next few years, and they’ll be big.”

Thursday’s release formally begins a month of negotiations with the Legislature to craft a final spending plan that must be approved by June 15.

The plan promises $50 million in additional state support for the University of California – but only if the system carries out the recommendations of the recent audit. “I put that $50 million in there so we can hold their feet to the fire,” Brown said.

The new plan also contains additional spending. It calls for allocating $400 million to counties in 2017-18 to help them pay their share of costs for home-care services for the old and disabled, easing the impact from the administration’s canceling of a program that sought to better coordinate health and social services for the poor.

Thursday’s package, though, includes few other major changes from the package Brown presented in January, shortly before Donald Trump’s inauguration put Republicans in full control of the federal government and seemingly within easy reach of repealing the Affordable Care Act and making other promised changes that would mean trouble for the state’s bottom line.

Since then, though, Trump’s agenda has bogged down. The House narrowly approved legislation this month to repeal Obamacare and revamp Medicaid, the federal-state health care program for the poor, with administration officials saying the plan would cost the state an estimated $6 billion in 2020, rising to $24 billion in 2027.

Brown tore into California House Republicans who voted for the health care bill.

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