Jerry Brown slashes higher education spending, disabled services
Gov. Jerry Brown announced nearly $1 billion in new cuts to state spending on Thursday, slashing spending on higher education in California and eliminating funding for free school bus service but avoiding deeper cuts that many had feared.
The long-anticipated cuts are due to California's tax revenue falling below the optimistic targets that Brown and legislative Democrats used when they approved the state budget in June. "This is not the way we'd like to run California, but we have to live within our means," Brown said at a midday press conference.
But the governor tried to emphasize the positive. School funding was poised to be sliced by $1.5 billion. Instead, a burst of new tax revenue led Brown's Department of Finance to raise its projections for California's cash flow. Now schools will lose less than $80 million in direct funding.
There was little celebrating, however. On top of the school reduction is the loss of $248 million that funds public school buses, a service so essential that LAUSD was poised to sue to try to prevent Brown from ending it. Funding for in-home health care will drop $100 million -- another cut that is being challenged in court. And community colleges are expected to raise fees to absorb their own $100-million cut.
Ominously, Brown warned of major cuts around the corner in January, when he details how he plans to close next year's projected $13-billion deficit. He hopes to convince voters to approve a $7-billion tax hike in November, but even if that passes the state will have to make reductions.
"We need to have a very serious discussion between now and November as to whether people want us to spend more," Brown said.
-- Nicholas Riccardi in Sacramento
Photo: Gov. Jerry Brown listens to reporters ask Director of Finance Ana Matosantos questions about the state budget during a news conference at the Capitol on Tuesday. Credit: Steve Yeater / Associated Press