Assembly Democrats Release Budget Blueprint
Plan Calls for Building $8 Billion in Reserves Over Several Years
A full month before the Governor releases his proposed state spending plan for 2014-15, Assembly Democrats released their “Blueprint for a Responsible Budget”, an outline of Assembly Democrats’ budget priorities for the coming year.
Noting the improved fiscal outlook for the state, the plan includes building reserves to $8 billion in 2016-17 via a new “rainy day fund”, established by a constitutional amendment that captures revenues from capital gains spikes. Additionally, the plan proposes investments in projects that create jobs and paying down debts, deferrals, and unfunded liabilities, including implementing a plan that reduces prison costs by investing in both collaborative justice courts and prevention and early intervention programs that reduce costs in the criminal justice system.
Assembly Democrats also propose additional investments in early childhood education, including expanding Transitional Kindergarten to all 4 year olds and investments in child care programs for 0-3 year olds. Proposed investments in the higher education system include additional funding for UC, CSU, and the community college system.
The Blueprint includes proposals to improve the lives of children living in poverty by increasing CalWORKS grants, creating a CalFRESH “add-on” for the poorest children, improving county job training programs, and expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and increase the CalWORKS earned income disregard. Proposals in to expand health access include a phased-in Medi-Cal rate increase and restoring public health programs like the Early Mental Health initiative, Asthma Public Health initiative, and Black Infant Health.
The Blueprint’s “Jobs Investments” proposal includes allocating cap and trade revenues, expanding the Infrastructure Bank to build a revolving loan fund for local government projects, accelerate the delivery of $500 million in federal drinking water funds to local agencies, and establishing a California New Markets Tax Credit that will generate investments in underserved, low income communities.
In comments to the press, Assembly Speaker John Perez and Assembly Budget Committee Chair Nancy Skinner pledged their commitment to work closely with their legislative counterparts and the Governor to approve a 2014-15 state budget by the June 15 constitutional deadline. The Governor is slated to release his proposed state budget on January 10, 2014. Counties can anticipate a CSAC Budget Action Bulletin summarizing the components of the Governor’s plan later that day.