Bud­get trig­gers mixed re­ac­tions in SCV

Cal­i­for­nia gov­er­nor un­veiled his $131.7 bil­lion plan to the public on Tues­day; leg­is­la­tors cheer Rainy Day Fund

The Signal - - NEWS - By An­drew Clark Sig­nal Staff Writer The full sum­mary of the gov­er­nor’s bud­get pro­posal can be found at www. ebud­get.ca.gov.

Santa Clarita leg­is­la­tors of­fered tem­pered re­ac­tions to Gov. Jerry Brown’s $131.7 bil­lion bud­get pro­posal un­veiled Wed­nes­day.

Politi­cians on both sides of the aisle cheered the gov­er­nor’s plan to add $3.5 bil­lion into the state’s Rainy Day Fund, while Repub­li­cans re­peat­edly pointed to the bud­get sur­plus as a means to help tax­pay­ers.

“The Leg­isla­tive An­a­lyst’s Of­fice has pro­jected a $7.5 bil­lion bud­get sur­plus, pro­vid­ing us an op­por­tu­nity to be­gin ad­dress­ing our chal­lenges,” Sen. Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita, said. “I look for­ward to a ro­bust dis­cus­sion with my col­leagues on the Se­nate Bud­get Com­mit­tee as to how these ad­di­tional tax­payer dol­lars can be used to bol­ster our Rainy Day Fund, pay down debt, max­i­mize ed­u­ca­tion fund­ing and grow our econ­omy.”

Brown seemed to fa­vor fis­cal re­straint in the bud­get by al­lot­ting an ex­tra $3.5 bil­lion pay­ment to the state’s Rainy Day Fund as a fire­wall against a po­ten­tial eco­nomic down­turn. The pay­ment, in ad­di­tion to the con­sti­tu­tion­ally man­dated pay­ment, would bring the to­tal Rainy Day Fund from $8.4 bil­lion to $13.5 bil­lion.

“Cal­i­for­nia has faced 10 re­ces­sions since World War II, and we must pre­pare for the eleventh. Yes, we have had some very good years and pro­gram spend­ing has in­creased steadily,” Brown wrote in his bud­get let­ter to the Leg­is­la­ture. “Let’s not blow it now.”

As­sem­bly­man Dante Acosta, R-Santa Clarita, said the sur­plus “is ev­i­dence that Cal­i­for­ni­ans are taxed to the hilt.”

“We must be care­ful to only use the sur­plus for one-time in­vest­ments and not gov­ern­ment pro­grams that com­mit us to on­go­ing spend­ing,” he said. “Sacra­mento needs to se­cure a safe fu­ture for Cal­i­for­ni­ans by in­vest­ing in the rainy day re­serve, im­prov­ing in­fra­struc­ture, and re­duc­ing our debt.”

Brown’s of­fice said he iden­ti­fied a $35 bil­lion “Wall of Debt” in 2011, say­ing it in­cluded de­fer­rals and bud­getary obli­ga­tions ac­cu­mu­lated over 10 years. The Gov­er­nor’s Of­fice said the debt has been re­duced to less than $6 bil­lion.

As­sem­bly­man Tom Lackey, R-Palm­dale, whose district in­cludes the north­ern edges of the Santa Clarita Val­ley, said the sur­plus should go to­ward trans­porta­tion.

“With Cal­i­for­nia pro­jected to have a bud­get sur­plus of sev­eral bil­lion dol­lars, it’s hard to un­der­stand why we just raised gas and car taxes on drivers by $5 bil­lion per year,” he said. “We should put half of the sur­plus into the state’s rainy day ac­count and use the other half to make a one­time in­vest­ment into fix­ing and ex­pand­ing our trans­porta­tion net­work. Cal­i­for­nia’s bud­get has never been larger and if we make smart de­ci­sions we can meet our in­fra­struc­ture needs with­out rais­ing taxes.”

Brown said $4.6 bil­lion of his bud­get in­cludes: $2.8 bil­lion for re­pair­ing roads, high­ways and bridges, $721 mil­lion for public tran­sit and pas­sen­ger rail im­prove­ments, $556 mil­lion for trade and com­merce cor­ri­dors such as the Golden State Free­way and $200 mil­lion for match­ing lo­cal funds for trans­porta­tion projects. The fund­ing is part of Se­nate Bill 1, the law that in­creased gas taxes on drivers statewide.

The of­fice of Sen. Henry Stern, D-Cal­abasas, whose district in­cludes Steven­son Ranch, did not re­turn re­quests for com­ment.

Photo cour­tesy of Gov­er­nor’s Bud­get Re­port

The Gen­eral Fund Ex­pen­di­tures are shown in this graph as part of Gov. Jerry Brown’s pro­posed 2018-19 state bud­get. Lo­cal leg­is­la­tors gave mixed re­ac­tions to the pro­posal on Wed­nes­day.

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