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A nod to Speaker John Perez in Jerry Brown's budget

As Gov. Jerry Brown proposes billions of dollars in cuts to popular social programs, his spending plan includes a few political olive branches to legislative leaders whose help he will need to pass a state budget.

On Friday, Assembly Speaker John A. Perez celebrated Brown’s proposed restoration of an embattled state child-care program for former welfare recipients that Democrats -- and Perez in particular -- had labeled their top priority. The funding, roughly $252 million, is significant but also symbolic, given that the governor has proposed cutting nearly three times as much -- $750 million -- from overall state child-care programs.

The money represents a political victory for Perez, whom the governor will need to assuage both the liberal Democratic caucus and the party’s allies in organized labor who are stewing over deep cuts to health and human services.

The Assembly speaker made it a personal cause last year, when former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger had cut by line-item veto the so-called Stage 3 program, which provides child care to nearly 60,000 parents working their way off welfare. Perez took $6 million from his own operating budget to help keep the program alive until Brown’s inauguration. He also solicited $40 million from County First 5 Commissions, which fund preschool programs with voter-approved cigarette taxes, to bridge the gap.

Brown’s budget would continue to provide child care as of April 1. Perez said Friday he was working with the Brown administration to find another $60 million in child-care funds from previous years to pay for the program through March.

"There are very difficult cuts proposed to all the child-care programs, and undoubtedly the final budget will have to include some of those proposed reductions," Perez said. "But as painful as those cuts may be, it will be far better than Gov. Schwarzenegger’s attack to throw 60,000 families out while taking away the safe education, the child care for the children of these parents.”

-- Michael J. Mishak in Sacramento

 
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