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New California budget details released

October 6, 2010 | 12:31 pm

The budget accord that top lawmakers and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger have struck would rely on cuts to public schools and reduced state worker pay, optimistic revenue assumptions and more than $5 billion in help from Washington -– far more than previously estimated -– to eliminate California’s $19-billion deficit.

The details of the spending plan, released in a report of the Legislature’s joint budget conference committee Wednesday morning, come less than 24 hours before the Legislature is scheduled to vote on the package. The budget, for the fiscal year that began July 1, is 98 days overdue and already the latest in modern state history.

The agreement avoids the deepest cuts that Schwarzenegger had proposed, such as the elimination of California’s main welfare program and child care for 140,000 children of low-income families. But it would roll back a pension boost that state workers received at the height of the dot-com boom. The new, lower pension levels would only apply to future employees.

Under the plan, current state employees would have their pay cut, contribute more to their pension plan and would be subjected to a payroll freeze. The combination would save the state $1.5 billion this year, the report says.

Lawmakers also would suspend the state’s education-funding guarantee, lowering school spending by $3 billion. But more than half of that cutback would be an accounting move, simply deferring payment of some school bills until the following fiscal year.

The eight-page conference report does not detail all the proposed cuts in the plan. But California's in-home healthcare program for the elderly, blind and disabled would shrink by 3.6%, the document says. Child-care services provided by the state would be trimmed by $48 million.

Winners in the plan would be the state’s two higher-education systems, the University of California and California State University. Both would receive $200 million to compensate for cuts made last year and enough money to fully fund projected enrollment growth, according to the report.

A past proposal to shift state-prison inmates to county jails -- vehemently opposed by local law-enforcement officials -– has been abandoned. But the prisons budget would be cut by more than $1 billion, mostly affecting inmate medical care, which is under the control of a federal receiver.
 
Click here to read the report: http://www.senate.ca.gov/ftp/SEN/COMMITTEE/STANDING/BFR/_home/2010conf/ConfAgenda10610.pdf

-- Shane Goldmacher in Sacramento

 

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