California Capitol

By Jessica Calefati, Bay Area News Group
Posted: 05/26/15 – 9:04 PM PDT |

SACRAMENTO ­>> With less than a month to go until the deadline to pass a new state budget, Democratic legislative leaders on Tuesday released dueling spending plans that are oddly far apart on key issues such as child care and higher education.

Both proposals assume the state will collect more revenue than Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration predicts — roughly $2.5 billion more — but Democrats in the Senate and Assembly apparently have starkly different views on how to spend the extra money.

“We need to make the right investments to ensure our economic growth,” Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles told reporters on a conference call Tuesday. But, he said, “there are differences of opinion” on how to achieve it.

The revised $115.3 billion spending plan Brown unveiled two weeks ago was already $7.3 billion larger than the budget enacted in June for the current fiscal year. And it reflected a $6.7 billion increase in projected general-fund revenues compared to the proposal he released in January.

For the fiscal year beginning July 1, top Assembly Democrats want to spend $605 million to create 20,000 new child care slots for low-income families, while their counterparts in the Senate want to spend half as much and open up fewer slots.

Senate Democrats want to increase funding for CSU by $163.5 million to help more students graduate on time, but doing so would require eliminating a scholarship program for middle-class students that Assembly Democrats are seeking to expand. UC would get a funding bump of $35 million under the Assembly Democrats’ plan.

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