A Surplus: California's Finances Have Improved - Los Angeles News | FOX 11 LA KTTV

A Surplus: California's Finances Have Improved

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(AP) - California's tax windfall lifted Gov. Jerry Brown's spending plan to a record level Tuesday, but the Democratic governor cautioned that the surplus is needed for higher-than-expected health care costs and an underfunded teachers' pension system.

The governor is projecting $107.8 billion in spending from the general fund, the state's main account for paying day-to-day operations, bringing total state spending to $156.2 billion for the fiscal year starting July 1. That's $1 billion more than the general fund plan Brown proposed in January.

The figure represents a 24 percent increase over the $87 billion general fund budget approved during the 2011-12 fiscal year, the low point of the recession when California cut billions of dollars from state programs and furloughed state workers.

"I can tell you this is good news for California," Brown told reporters Tuesday.

Here are the highlights:


  • Projects a $107.8 billion general fund for the fiscal year starting July 1. Includes $2.4 billion in increased revenue over his January estimate.
  • Total spending is $156.2 billion, including from bond funds and special funds that are dedicated to specific programs.


  • Includes $1.6 billion to make the final payment on the economic recovery bonds passed during the administration of former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to close a budget deficit.
  • Puts $1.6 billion into the state's rainy day fund.
    Includes a 30-year plan to pay down California's nearly $74 billion in unfunded liabilities for the California State Teachers' Retirement System, including a contribution of $450 million in the next fiscal year from the state, school districts and teachers. The state portion would be $73.2 million from the general fund.
  • Makes a $100 million payment to local governments as reimbursement for deferred state mandates owed since at least 2004.


  • K-12 education will receive a total of $44.7 billion from the general fund, a 4.3 percent increase over the current fiscal year.
  • The amount owed to schools has increased under California's Proposition 98 funding guarantee by $659 million above January projections. That includes $4.5 billion to implement the local control funding formula, Brown's plan that allows local leaders to have more control over how schools spend the money they receive from the state.
  • Total general fund spending is $12.5 billion, a 9.9 percent increase over the current year.
  • Total general fund spending of $29.6 billion, a 2.7 percent increase over the current year.
  • Proposes increased spending of $2.4 billion in Medi-Cal, the state's health insurance program for the poor, as a result of 1.4 million more people than expected enrolling. The administration had projected 10.5 million people would enroll in Medi-Cal in the 2014-15 fiscal year but now projects 11.5 million will gain coverage.
  • Increase of $107.9 million in general fund spending this year and $134.4 million in the coming fiscal year, due to growth in caseload, hours per case and costs per hour for the In-Home Supportive Services program.
  • Increase of $35 million this year and $95.2 million in 2014-15 in state and federal funding for CalWORKs, the state's welfare-to-work program. The revised budget also includes $13 million in general fund spending for a 5 percent increase in the maximum aid allowed, an increase of $6.8 million from the January proposal.
  • Increase of $20.7 million in general fund spending for an additional 134,000 households projected by June 2015 to join the CalFresh food stamp program. This brings the total estimated 2014-15 caseload to 279,000 households.
  • The governor is proposing to direct $250 million in proceeds from cap-and-trade, greenhouse gas emission fees to the high-speed rail project. The bullet train has faced legal setbacks and is in a bind because it cannot currently sell some $9 billion in voter-approved bonds.
  • Brown said Tuesday the project is important for economic and environmental reasons: "It's not moving people who wouldn't have moved. It's moving them in a more efficient, more elegant manner in a train than sitting behind the wheel with all the stress that brings and all the impacts on climate and sprawl and parking lots and all the rest."
  • Adds $142 million to address California's drought for expenses such as firefighting, emergency response, water management, wildlife preservation and food assistance, primarily for farm workers who lose their jobs.


  • Includes total funding of $3.6 billion for the judicial branch, of which $1.3 billion will come from the general fund.
  • The Brown administration proposes to reduce court pension costs by asking trial courts to increase employee contributions in the same way the state changed state worker contributions.
  • Provides $30.9 million to backfill a potential shortfall in court service fees, such as copying charges.
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