Statement of Assembly Majority Leader Toni Atkins on Adoption of State Budget
(Sacramento) The State Legislature today adopted a balanced, on-time state budget for the coming fiscal year. The Legislature’s budget will next be reviewed by Governor Brown by the June 30th constitutional deadline for the new fiscal year that begins July 1st.
Following is the statement of Assembly Majority Leader Toni Atkins on today’s action:
Today the California State Legislature adopted a state budget that is balanced, on-time, and fiscally responsible. This budget is a blueprint for a state government that promotes growth and provides essential services through the prudent and responsible use of taxpayer money. It reflects our state’s values – continuing a cautious approach to spending and revenue projections as we come out of a serious recession, setting the stage for establishing a rainy day fund, strengthening the middle class, and prioritizing the effective and efficient delivery of state government services to businesses and individuals.
Elements of next year’s budget that will be of particular interest to my constituents include:
Fiscal caution: The budget is balanced, with a reserve of $1.1 billion. It is based upon a conservative estimate of state revenues rather than more optimistic projections that some have urged. The budget pays down $5.2 billion in budget debt and also budget anticipates the placement on the 2014 ballot of a proposal to establish a Rainy Day Fund to protect against future economic downturns.
Education funding: In a reversal of the financial pressure experienced by schools for the past several years, this year every school district will receive a funding increase. School districts with high concentrations of English learners and poor families will receive additional funds. Student costs at community colleges and the state’s universities will also be stabilized through increased budget allocations.
Middle Class Scholarships: Implementation of this program will begin next year. When fully in place, students whose families earn under $100,000 will be eligible for scholarships to cover 40% of fees at the California State University and University of California.
Veterans Services: The budget provides $3 million for state staff to assist the federal government in processing disability claims for California veterans and $3 million for County Veteran Service Officers to outreach to veterans regarding services.
Improved Programs for Families Striving for the Middle Class: In addition to strengthening our educational system and improving access for all students, the budget adopted by the legislature increases funding for child care to assist parents in returning to work and for the CalWORKS Child Poverty Adjustment. Other modifications to the CalWORKS program stabilize families and support employment.
The budget also re-establishes a modified Medi-Cal Adult Dental program, a benefit that was completely eliminated through drastic budget cuts during the recession. Medi-Cal will also be slightly expanded to provide access to healthcare for the working poor.
Delivering Effective, Efficient Services for Californians: The budget follows through on the Assembly’s action this Spring to permanently cut the length of time for the Secretary of State to process business filings from over 60 days to no more than 5 days. In addition, $4 million is allocated for Local Coastal Plans to be updated for streamlining and improving coastal zone changes in accordance with the Coastal Act.
San Diego Items:
Preserving Historic San Diego Old Town Site: I was successful in securing the transfer of the abandoned CalTrans headquarters near Old Town to the state park system in order to keep the site in public hands and preserve the archaeological treasures buried beneath the building.
Protecting Scripps Pier: $5 million was included in the state budget to replace the aging 50-year old Nimitz Marine Facility (MarFac) pier maintained by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego. The pier is home base for more than 90 Scripps research vessels studying climate change and the ocean environment.
Meals for Seniors: Due to federal sequestration, senior nutrition programs such as those provided by San Diego Senior Community Services face a $10 million statewide loss. Under this budget, the state will backfill some of this loss by providing $1 million for “meals on wheels” type programs and $1.7 million for group senior meals.
Court Funding: Court funding was seriously impacted during the recession, with the effect of limiting access to our state system of justice. The legislature added $63M to Governor’s proposal for a modest restoration of funds. San Diego courts will receive enough additional funding to avoid employee furloughs that were imminent. Funding for the new San Diego courthouse remains in next year’s budget.
Additional information about the budget adopted today by the legislature is available at http://asmdc.org/issues/budget-blueprint/.