The County Voice

Actively Awaiting the Governor’s State Budget Proposal

Christmas and New Year’s are over, but this week, there is still great anticipation among the Capitol community to see what the Governor proposes in his  2014-15 state budget.  For the first year in many,we are expecting a surplus rather than a deficit when the budget is revealed this Friday. While that is a far preferable situation, it still means there will be hard decisions to make, and, as always, CSAC will be part of the process.

We already know from the two legislative leaders how they hope to manage a potentially multiple billion dollar surplus. Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg has proposed splitting the surplus equally three ways and using one third to pay off debt, another third to start funding a reserve account, and the final third to be used to restore programs that had been cut drastically over the past several years—specifically, mental health, pre-kindergarten, and other education programs.

The Speaker of the Assembly and his fellow Democrats have outlined a similar plan — they call a Blueprint for a Responsible Budget. It also puts priorities on a reserve account and education, and also includes a significant section on job training and creation. Both of these initial plans from the legislative leadership focus on reinvesting in California and fiscal responsibility,  but the budget plan from the Governor sets the stage for the budget debate.

We don’t know too many of the details from the Governor’s budget yet, other than what the media has reported. (Specifically, that he plans to use some of the funds from the state’s “Cap and Trade” program for High Speed Rail.)  Given the fiscal conservatism he has shown so far, we also expect that funding a rainy-day reserve account will play a large role in this year’s proposal.

CSAC is not sitting by idly. Our staff has met with Department of Finance staff several times to discuss important issues facing counties in the upcoming year. We have also set up meetings with the Governor and his staff after the budget proposal is released, so we can express counties’ views on various proposals.

Look for more details about the budget later this week in our first Budget Action Bulletin. And of course, we will stay on top of the budget negotiations as they progress towards the May Revision and the eventual budget deadline at the end of June.

This is the yearly give and take of the legislative and budgetary cycle. We won’t get everything we want—from this budget or from the legislative cycle. No one ever does. But we can promise you that because of the relationships we have built, and the credibility we have maintained, CSAC has a seat at the table, and when counties speak, the people who matter most in the Capitol will at least stop and listen.

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