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Brown's tax proposal could mean more money to go around

March 14, 2012 |  4:36 pm

Budget chairs

Gov. Jerry Brown’s revised tax initiative would generate an estimated $9 billion in the next fiscal year, $2.1 billion more than his original plan.

So although lawmakers are still bracing for steep cuts to balance the state budget this year, they’re also noticing there will be more money to go around if voters approve the tax hikes at the ballot box in November.

That means cuts to welfare and college scholarships that have been voted down by lawmakers may not need to be made, said Assembly Budget Chairman Bob Blumenfield (D-Woodland Hills). He said lawmakers will need to see revised revenue numbers in May before making final decisions, and predicted there will still be tough calls to make on how deep to slice into the budget.

Assembly subcommittees have rejected about $1.4 billion in Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed cuts so far. Lawmakers have also expressed reservations about a nearly $400-million cut to child care, the subject of a hearing Wednesday afternoon.

Others see an opportunity to start reversing years of cuts to California’s university system. Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg said in a statement that the agreement “paves the way for us to move forward toward reinvesting in higher education, bringing down tuition and fees to expand accessibility and once again making a college education more affordable for thousands of Californians.”

California Federation of Teachers President Josh Peschtalt, who agreed to merge his tax initiative with Brown’s, said more middle-class families will be unable to send their children to college unless more funding is set aside for universities.

“We think an infusion of 2 billion additional dollars would negate some of the cuts to higher education,” he said.

The estimated $9 billion in revenue from Brown's tax initiative would be funnelled into education funding, said H.D. Palmer, a spokesman for the governor's Department of Finance. That will free up more of the state budget for other purposes, and Palmer said the administration is still trying to calculate how much money will be available.

--  Chris Megerian and Anthony York in Sacramento

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PHOTO: Gov. Jerry Brown, left, talks with Senate Budget Chairman Mark Leno, center, and Assembly Budget Chairman Bob Blumenfield. CREDIT: Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press