Governor Jerry Brown released his 2012-13 budget today, five days early due to the LA Times getting a hold of the document after it was mistakenly posted to a public web site.
Our Sacramento Bureau Chief John Myers has his post up on Capital Notes.
The $137.3 billion spending plan offers yet more controversial spending cuts, but ones that appear to be rooted in some actual retooling of existing state government practices — perhaps a sign that Brown knows that the system, as it exists, doesn’t give him as many options.
Tops on that ‘retooling’ list would be the welfare-to-work program CalWorks. Brown proposes to cut $1.4 billion out of the program by reducing the assistance to families that fail to meet federal work requirements. In many cases, that’s a cut from four years of eligibility for benefits down to two years.
Meantime, the budget seeks an outright repeal of some state mandates on local government, a savings of $828 million. Many of these mandates, from rules about abandoned pets in animal shelters to government meeting notices, have been suspended in recent years… necessary, because the state constitution says if locals are forced to do certain things, Sacramento needs to reimburse for it.
Other notable cuts include less spending on Medi-cal through new efforts at managed care alternatives for some 1.2 million patients; a 17% cut in available slots for subsidized child care; a $1 billion cut in prison spending, largely being attributed to the realignment of offenders to county jails.
The governor is also pushing changes — i.e., fewer rules — on state tax dollars spent on public schools. And he couches it all in the language of his desire to shift power to the local level.
“Let a thousand flowers bloom,” said Brown in a paraphrase of Chairman Mao. “Let Kern County be Kernites, and let Modocians be Modocians, and let the San Francisco school district do what they do.”
And yes, Brown’s budget includes the promised new round of ‘trigger cuts,’ cuts that would automatically go into effect if his $7 billion tax initiative is rejected by voters on November 6.
Of the $5.4 billion in proposed trigger cuts, almost all are to education (with a few to the courts and CalFire thrown in for good measure). Most prominent is a $4.8 billion reduction in Proposition 98 guaranteed funding, which Brown’s advisers say translates into a school year shortened by a whopping three weeks. The CSU and UC systems would also face new cuts should the tax package fail. Read the full post
Update 2:45 p.m. The GOP responds.