Sacramento, CA — With a Constitutional deadline approaching, state lawmakers passed a new budget last night.
The $108-billion General Fund budget is for the fiscal year that starts July 1st, and it still requires the signature of Governor Jerry Brown. Democratic Senate Majority Leader Darrell Steinberg noted that it sets aside $10.4 billion for debt repayments, $2.1 billion for a rainy day fund, and has a “clear focus on children and education.” Steinberg notes that the budget provides money for preschool services to lower income families, dedicates $250 million for career oriented education, and $310 million to strengthen California’s Community Colleges.
Many Republicans voted in opposition of the new budget. Senate Republican Budget Vice Chairman Jim Nielsen said it relies on “rosy revenue projections.” The Republican leader pointed out that General Fund spending is $12 billion more than last year. He was also upset that $66.6 million in state operations funding is going to high speed rail, $67 million of the DMV spending will help undocumented immigrants obtain drivers licenses, and $170.8 million will go to expand CalWORKS grants. He also had concerns about money going to the California Air Resources Board and how money will be spent that is collected from the Cap and Trade program.
Another controversial change is that drug felons would be eligible to start receiving food stamps. In the past they were barred from the food stamps program. Local District 14 Republican State Senator Tom Berryhill said, “This budget provides welfare benefits for drug felons, yet does very little to address the early release of violent felons into our communities. I would much rather see funding for law enforcement to provide them the tools to deal with the flood of felons being released.”
Lawmakers needed to get the budget approved by yesterday in order to continue to receive their paychecks.