PolitiCal

On politics in the Golden State

Category: Jerry Brown

Brown looks to fee hikes to fund courts

California residents who want to fight a traffic ticket from home or get copies of legal paperwork would have to shell out more money under Gov. Jerry Brown's "austerity" budget plan for state courts next year.

The governor's spending plan adopts 11 recommendations for increased costs or reduced services that were recommended last month to the state Judicial Council. They help offset some $200 million in cuts Brown warns the state's trial court system will have to make starting the 2014-15 fiscal year. Brown proposes borrowing $200 million from courthouse construction accounts to get the system through the next year.

The fee to oppose a traffic ticket by mail in your home county would go to $50, bringing in $3.2 million more to the state. 

The cost for clerks to search and retrieve multiple case files would go to $10 for every record searched. Clerks blame "data mining" companies for the need to charge more, but the bill would be footed by everyone.

The price for a paper copy of a court record would double, to $1 per page.

Courts would cut costs by eliminating some procedures, such as not collecting Social Security numbers on court orders for debt collection, not destroying records relating to marijuana possession, and providing transcripts of preliminary hearings only in homicide cases. 

The Judicial Council notes that as of October, six out of 10 counties in California have had to reduce hours, close offices or courtrooms, even as it calculates the state needs 264 more judges to handle the state's growing caseload. 

ALSO:

Debt still clouds state's future

Analyst calls Brown's budget 'reasonable'

Brown shifts schedule for repaying budget loans

--Paige St. John in Sacramento

Jerry Brown continues push for more online college classes

Gov. Jerry Brown is set to launch a two-day push for more online classes at California's public universities
Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday is set to launch a two-day push for more online classes at California's public universities.

Brown is scheduled to speak at a San Jose State University on Tuesday morning as the school announces a new pilot program that will make online courses available to students. On Wednesday, Brown is to attend a meeting of the Board of Regents of the University of California to push for some of the items he is seeking in his budget plan, including more online courses and a call for the university to find ways to trim money from the budget.

Next week, Brown is to attend the meeting of the Cal State Board of Trustees in Long Beach.

In his budget, Brown set aside nearly $37 million to expand the number of online courses at the state's public universities and community colleges. Overall, he proposed boosting the UC and Cal State systems' budgets by more than $250 million above what they received from Sacramento in last year's budget, with increases of 4% to 5% over the next four years -- more than enough, Brown said, to prevent tuition hikes during that time.

University leaders say they welcome the additional money and that they are open to Brown's ideas on cost-cutting and online courses.

"We've always endorsed the potential for online education," said regents President Sherry Lansing. "This is not some kind of new topic for us. We just didn't have any money for it."

Although university officials say tuition hikes would be unnecessary this fall if Brown's proposals are adopted, they would not commit to a longer-term tuition freeze.

ALSO:

Jerry Brown wants changes at state university systems

Jerry Brown to attend UC Regents, CSU Trustees meetings

Analyst concerned about rising spending and pension costs

-- Anthony York in Sacramento

Photo: Gov. Jerry Brown points to a chart as he details his proposed budget last week. Credit: Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press

Skelton: Jerry Brown's school plan bad for California middle class

When Gov. Jerry Brown pitched his new school funding plan, he described it as a just way to make sure poor districts get adequate state funding. George Skelton says the plan is actually not just at all

Skelton

When Gov. Jerry Brown pitched his new school funding plan, he described it as a just way to make sure poor districts get adequate state funding.

"Our future depends not on across-the-board funding, but in disproportionately funding those schools that have disproportionate challenges," he said.

In Monday's column, George Skelton says the plan is actually not just at all. 

"How much income redistribution are Californians in the mood for?" Skelton wrote. "In this new scheme of Gov. Jerry Brown's, it isn't only the rich getting robbed. It's the middle class." 

Brown's plan would send additional money to schools with more students that are poor, English learners or in foster homes. The problem is, Skelton said, the money comes out of the state's big pot of education funding, leaving less for other schools. 

"Californians need to be pulling together as they struggle out of the great recession," he wrote. "Government shouldn't be alienating the core middle class to benefit anyone."

All of Skelton's columns are here.

ALSO:

Gov. Jerry Brown commits to major Medi-Cal expansion

Gov. Jerry Brown wants changes at state university systems

Democratic legislative leaders relieved by Gov. Brown's budget

Photo: Gov. Jerry Brown speaks to reporters in a classroom in 2011. Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times

County probation departments lose incentive funds

The success of California's prison realignment plan is causing an unintended casualty: smaller rewards for counties that figure out how to cut recidivism.

Gov. Jerry Brown's proposed budget includes only $35 million in what are called community corrections performance grants, down from $138 million this year. The grants are given to county probation departments that reduce the number of felons they send back to state prison for violating probation or committing a new crime.

The 2009 program was designed to give counties a share of the money the state saves when it doesn't have to lock someone up.

However, under AB109, there are fewer felons returning to state prison. Low-level offenders and parole violators are now responsibility of counties. The shift is the primary driver behind large drops in California's prison population, and continued crowding in some county jails.

The Administrative Office of the Courts calculated that probation departments kept 9,500 felons out of prison this year, including 3,890 in Los Angeles. For that, Los Angeles received nearly $53 million in performance grants.

ALSO:

Gov. Jerry Brown details budget numbers at Capitol

California conservation chief faces grilling over fracking

Skelton: Brown correct to target federal control of prisons

 --Paige St. John in Sacramento

 

 

Gov. Jerry Brown envisions budget without more steep cuts

Brown January 13-14 budget

Gov. Jerry Brown's new budget proposal includes little of the spending cuts that have characterized California state government in recent years.

Some cuts, in fact, are allowed to expire amid the state's improving financial situation.

For example, the governor does not plan on continuing furloughs for state workers, which is saving an estimated $372.9 million in general fund spending in the current fiscal year. On top of that, state workers are going to cost the state's general fund $247 million more in the next fiscal year, administration officials projected.

The state is expected to enter contract negotiations with most state worker unions this year, which could alter costs further.

Brown's budget proposal would end a 3.6% reduction in hours of in-home care for the elderly and disabled at a cost of $59.1 million.

Some activists were disappointed that more cuts weren't restored.

“Without a restored social safety net in California, our working families cannot fully participate in our economic recovery," said a statement from Vanessa Aramayo, director of California Partnership, a coalition of anti-poverty groups.

Brown defended his decisions at a Capitol news conference on Thursday morning.

“I want to advance the progressive agenda but consistent with the amount of money people made available,” he said.

ALSO:

Gov. Jerry Brown commits to major Medi-Cal expansion

Gov. Jerry Brown wants changes at state university systems

Democratic legislative leaders relieved by Gov. Brown's budget

-- Chris Megerian in Sacramento
twitter.com/chrismegerian

Photo: Gov. Jerry Brown discusses a chart on Thursday showing budget surpluses. Credit: Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press

Gov. Jerry Brown commits to major Medi-Cal expansion

JerryBrownBudget
In order to help implement President Obama’s healthcare overhaul in California, Gov. Jerry Brown proposed a major expansion of the state’s public insurance program in the state budget he unveiled Thursday.

Most Americans face the requirement in January 2014 to buy health insurance or pay a penalty under the federal Affordable Care Act. 

Brown earmarked $350 million in his spending plan to help enroll more Californians in Medi-Cal, the state’s health insurance program for the poor. Under the proposal, enrollment rules would be simplified to cover residents who are currently eligible but not enrolled. Those costs would be split evenly between state and federal governments.

The governor’s plan also calls for a separate, larger expansion of Medi-Cal that would cover a group of low-income Californians not currently eligible for the program: adults without children, earning up to 138% of the federal poverty level -- or $15,415 a year. The federal government would subsidize costs for the first three years, with the state shouldering a portion of the bill after that.

Whether that expansion will be handled at the state or county levels will be the subject of debate in the coming months.

Brown called the $350 million in his plan a “placeholder” figure, given that state officials await additional guidance from Washington, including the scope of benefits that would be required for newly eligible Californians and the funding formula that would determine how much federal money the state receives.

While state officials declined to provide caseload estimates, healthcare analysts have said the expansion could result in hundreds of thousands of new enrollees in Medi-Cal.

ALSO:

Gov. Jerry Brown details budget numbers at Capitol

California conservation chief faces grilling over fracking

Skelton: Brown correct to target federal control of prisons

--Michael J. Mishak in Sacramento

twitter.com/mjmishak

Photo: Gov. Jerry Brown responds to questions concerning his proposed 2013-14 state budget he unveiled at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif., Thursday, Jan. 10, 2013. Credit: AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli

Jerry Brown wants changes at state university systems

BrownBudget

Gov. Jerry Brown said he will attend meetings of the University of California Board of Regents and California State University Board of Trustees later this month to pressure the systems to change their ways and hold the line on student tuition.

Brown made his comments at a news conference Thursday where he unveiled a new spending plan that includes a combined $534 million increase to the two systems over last year’s budget.

Those increases fall short of the amount the UC Regents have said would be necessary to prevent tuition increases for the fall semester. But the governor made clear Thursday that he would do everything he could to get the board, on which he serves, to hold the line on fee hikes.

Brown said that talks with CSU and UC are "embryonic"  and that he will proceed “diplomatically but carefully” to get them to change. He wants more courses to be available online, wants faculty to teach more and says the schools should trim administrative costs.

The budget proposal also includes a plan to link future school funding to their ability to graduate students in a timely manner. 

He proposed higher fees for so-called “super seniors” -- students who earn more than 150% of the units necessary to graduate. A similar proposal under consideration by CSU was tabled last November at Brown’s request.

The regents meet in San Francisco next week. Brown will also attend a meeting of the CSU Trustees in Long Beach the following week.

ALSO:

Jerry Brown predicts California budget surplus by end of next year

Democratic legislative leaders relieved by Gov. Brown's budget

Did 'fiscal cliff' fears wipe out California's red ink?

-- Anthony York in Sacramento

Photo: California Gov. Jerry Brown. Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

Did 'fiscal cliff' fears wipe out California's red ink?

Brown_budget

It was only a few months ago that the Legislature’s analysts declared that California still had some red ink to contend with, projecting that the governor and lawmakers would have to close a $1.9-billion shortfall.

In the budget Gov. Jerry Brown presented Thursday, he declared that shortfall was gone. He said even if the state made no program cuts or other policy changes, California’s budget would be balanced next year. He proposed plans that would allow the state to build a $1-billion surplus.

So how did the state go from $1.9 billion in the red to the black so quickly?

Brown’s budget explains that most of it is the result of a projected surge in personal income taxes. As wealthy Californians prepared for the pending federal tax hikes, many apparently began rushing to cash out stocks and other investments in the 2012 tax year, so they wouldn’t have to pay the higher rates that took effect in 2013.

The administration explains -- albeit in dry language -- on Page 137 of the governor’s budget: “The [revenue] forecast includes a shift of capital gains, dividends, and wages from 2013 into 2012 as a result of the expected increase in federal tax rates.”

But the administration also warns that lots of guesswork went into its forecast, which was completed before the nation went over the "fiscal cliff" and a tax deal was reached in Congress. It still has not seen the actual returns from the last quarter of 2012, and cautions that the state will be unlikely to confirm whether that surge in revenue actually happened until the governor releases a revised budget plan in May.

-- Evan Halper in Sacramento

ALSO:

Gov. Jerry Brown details budget numbers at Capitol

California conservation chief faces grilling over fracking

Skelton: Brown correct to target federal control of prisons

Photo: California Governor Jerry Brown on Tuesday at a news conference in Los Angeles. Credit: Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times

Jerry Brown predicts California budget surplus by end of next year

California Governor Jerry Brown at a press conference Wednesday. Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

After years of red ink, Gov. Jerry Brown said on Thursday that California’s $96.7-billion general fund is now poised to end next year with a surplus, thanks to years of deep budget cuts and billions in new taxes approved by voters last year.

Gov. Jerry Brown's proposed California budget, 2013-14

"We achieved the position we're in because of tough cuts ... and then the people voted for taxes," he said. "We broke the logjam by going to the people."

READ THE SUMMARY: Gov. Brown's proposed 2013-2014 budget

Schools will be the big winner in the governor's new spending plan, receiving $56.2 billion in state funds, an increase by $2.7 billion over the last year. That funding is set to jump to more than $66 billion by 2016.

The budget also dedicated an additional $350 million to the state’s public insurance program, Medi-Cal, to help implement President Obama’s healthcare law.

Brown’s budget predicts only the second budget surplus in the last decade, with an $851-million surplus projected at the end of the 2013-14 fiscal year -- if all his proposals are approved by lawmakers.

With Democrats firmly in control of both legislative houses and the governor’s office, and without what had become familiar multibillion-dollar deficits, this year’s announcement lacked the anxiety and urgency that had surrounded past budget unveilings.

Instead of railing against proposed reductions in popular programs, activists are now girding for long policy battles based on the ideas put forward by the governor on Thursday.

Those fights will play out in the Legislature over the coming months. While they include sweeping changes in how Sacramento spends its money, those skirmishes, too, will lack the drama over cuts to schools and health services that have dominated Capitol discourse for the better part of the last decade.

ALSO:

Gov. Jerry Brown details budget numbers at Capitol

California conservation chief faces grilling over fracking

Skelton: Brown correct to target federal control of prisons

-- Anthony York in Sacramento

Photo: California Governor Jerry Brown at a press conference Tuesday. Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

Gov. Jerry Brown details budget numbers at Capitol

Gov. Jerry Brown at a press conference Tuesday in Los Angeles. Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

Gov. Jerry Brown's budget proposal, which he is detailing this morning at the Capitol, includes $97.7 billion in general-fund spending, an estimated 4% increase over the current year.

Gov. Jerry Brown's proposed California budget, 2013-14

The budget will also include $40.1 billion in spending from special funds, which are more than 500 accounts dedicated to various programs and initiatives. The governor plans to spend another $7.2 billion in bond funds.

READ THE SUMMARY: Gov. Brown's proposed 2013-2014 budget

The rising costs of healthcare, financial aid for college students and the state's debt obligations are some of the driving forces behind spending increases, according to the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office.

State funding for local schools, which is determined by a legal formula, is also set to increase by roughly $2 billion.

Brown has pledged to keep a tight lid on spending to prevent the state from sliding back into the steep budget deficits of past years.

The budget has been buoyed by an estimated $6 billion in new taxes from Proposition 30, the ballot measure promoted by Brown and approved by voters in November. In addition, voters passed Proposition 39, which adds another $1 billion in annual tax revenue. Half of that money is dedicated to clean-energy programs.

ALSO:

Brown to release new budget proposal

Governor calls on feds to give up oversight of prisons

Brown plans extensive changes for school funding in 2013

-- Chris Megerian in Sacramento
twitter.com/chrismegerian

Photo: Gov. Jerry Brown at a press conference Tuesday in Los Angeles. Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

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