By Melody Gutierrez
Gov. Jerry Brown signed a $115.4 billion general fund state budget on Wednesday, using his veto pen to wipe out $1.3 million in program increases sought by the state Legislature.
Among the vetoes were a plan that would have increased outreach for the state's Paid Family Leave program and a plan that would have added $1 million for ecosystem restoration at Clear Lake in Lake County. The vetoes amounted to the lowest removed from the budget by a governor since 1982-83, when Brown was previously at the helm.
All six vetoes were in special spending programs, outside of the state's general fund.
The vetoes also included a proposal from Assemblyman Kevin McCarty, D-Sacramento, for the state Department of Transportation to relinquish the Tower Bridge over the Sacramento River that connects West Sacramento and Sacramento.
Brown's veto message said an agreement can be reached between the state and the cities seeking the bridge outside the budget process. McCarty had sought up to $15 million from the state for bridge upgrades if the agreement was reached.
The record high budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1 passed the state Legislature last week with a handful of Republican votes. A budget deal was reached between legislative leaders and Brown prior to the governor signing the spending plan.
The budget sets aside billions to weather the next recession, while significantly increasing spending on schools, health care and programs for the poor.
Under the budget, the state will have $3.5 billion in its rainy day fund by the end of the year, while using $1.1 billion for an operating reserve and $1.9 billion to pay down debts and liabilities, including money borrowed from public schools during the recession.
Public schools will take in $60 billion in funding, which amounts to $3,000 more per student in 2015-16 compared with four years earlier.
Under the budget, the state will begin offering Medi-Cal benefits in May 2016 to 170,000 children who are undocumented immigrants and whose families are low-income. The program will cost $40 million in the next fiscal year and $132 million annually in future years.
The state budget creates an earned income tax credit for the poor at a cost of $380 million and adds 13,800 preschool and child care slots along with a rate increase for providers at a cost of $265 million.
"The budget the governor signed (Wednesday) makes important investments and pays down debt while adding to state reserves," said Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, D-San Diego. "It is not only a reflection of our state's economic health, but a plan that will continue to help build California's fiscal fitness."
(c)2015 the San Francisco Chronicle