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Mixed Reaction To Governor’s Budget

Sacramento, CA — Lawmakers are weighing in with their opinions concerning the Governor’s proposed $122 billion dollar budget.

As reported earlier today, Governor Jerry Brown announced his budget. He touted that his proposal increases funding for education and helps build up the rainy day fund. There is also a one-time sum of $323 million in drought funding to be used for protecting water supplies, conserve water and provide emergency assistance to farm workers, fish and wildlife. Additionally, the plan targets $2 billion to go toward infrastructure improvements, the money coming from a new $65 fee on all vehicles. His proposal calls for changes to gasoline and diesel taxes to generate $1 billion annually.

Two Republican Mother Lode legislators, State Senator Tom Berryhill and Assemblyman Frank Bigelow commended Brown for the drought and wildfire disaster funding, which will help Butte Fire survivors. Bigelow stated, “I am pleased the Governor has recognized the catastrophic loss the Butte Fire caused Calaveras and Amador counties. In his budget proposal released today, the Governor allocated state general funds to provide relief to Butte Fire victims, including backfilling local tax revenue losses.”

However, both criticized Brown’s proposal for increasing taxes to repair infrastructure.  Sen. Berryhill stating, “I remain disappointed that the governor prefers additional taxes to repair roads and bridges, rather than prioritizing more of our general fund dollars on that task. We had a $10 billion dollar budget surplus last year, revenues are predicted to be even higher this year, and yet he continues to insist on tax increases. Maintaining a solid and safe transportation infrastructure should be more of a priority.” Bigelow added that a top priority should be building water storage through the voter approved Proposition 1 water bond, which includes $2.7 billion for new storage, a better investment  in California’s future.

Board of Equalization Vice Chair George Runner remarked, “During this time of additional revenue…I’m concerned that the boost in revenue will cause many lawmakers to clamor for more spending. The last thing we need to do right now is mirror past mistakes that led to prior budget crises.”

Praising the Governor’s further investment in education, the state’s top educator, Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson remarked, “Schools are making great progress with the extra resources from Proposition 98 and Proposition 30. Schools are reducing class sizes, adding programs in the arts and many other subjects, and continuing to upgrade teaching of math, science and English. We need to make sure these extra revenues keep flowing so schools can continue their momentum.”

Of note,  Sen. Berryhill’s office provided this list of Butte Fire funding in the proposed budget, which he indicated are still being analyzed:

  • $1.9M going to both Lake & Butte fire victims to backfill tax revenue loss (at this point we aren’t sure how that will get divided)
  • $267,000 directly to Calaveras to cover local Cal Fire costs
  • A rumored overall $719M drought pot that will also go to fire relief & suppression. Again, we aren’t sure how that will get divvied out.