Gov. New­som out­lines his first state bud­get Page 2A

Porterville Recorder - - FRONT PAGE - AP PHOTO BY RICH PE­DRON­CELLI

SACRA­MENTO — Cal­i­for­nia Gov. Gavin New­som on Thurs­day re­leased his first bud­get pro­posal, out­lin­ing $144 bil­lion in gen­eral fund spend­ing and $65 bil­lion more from bonds and spe­cial funds.

It kicks of five months of ne­go­ti­a­tions with law­mak­ers, who must ap­prove a spend­ing plan by June 15.

Here's a look at what's in his plan:

WILD­FIRES The bud­get as­sumes that Cal­i­for­nia will have to pay nearly $1 bil­lion for last year's wild­fires that dev­as­tated the Sierra Ne­vada foothills town of Par­adise, among other com­mu­ni­ties. The $923 mil­lion is 25 per­cent of the over­all pro­jected cost, with the fed­eral gov­ern­ment cov­er­ing the rest.

It in­cludes $31 mil­lion to make up for wild­fir­ere­lated prop­erty tax losses in Butte, Lake, Los An­ge­les, Orange, River­side, Shasta and Siskiyou coun­ties. An­other $19 mil­lion aids schools that lost rev­enue be­cause of wild­fires. New­som also pro­poses to waive the lo­cal share of de­bris re­moval costs, sav­ing coun­ties $155 mil­lion on what is pro­jected to be a $2.5 bil­lion cleanup.

He's propos­ing $60 mil­lion this year and next to im­prove emer­gency com­mu­ni­ca­tions, and seek­ing a new fee on con­sumers to gen­er­ate $170 mil­lion an­nu­ally. An­other $16 mil­lion would fin­ish the Cal­i­for­nia Earth­quake Early Warn­ing Sys­tem.

His bud­get in­cludes more than $400 mil­lion to re­duce fire-prone fu­els and im­prove the state's fire­fight­ing abil­ity. About half the money goes to for­est man­age­ment ef­forts, which have fre­quently been crit­i­cized by Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump. Nearly $8 mil­lion would go to cre­ate five Cal­i­for­nia Con­ser­va­tion Corps fire­fight­ing crews and four Forestry Corps crews.

HOUS­ING New­som wants $1.75 bil­lion to com­bat the state's hous­ing cri­sis and $500 mil­lion to­ward home­less­ness pro­grams.

His plan would ex­pand state tax cred­its to en­cour­age more low- and mod­er­ate-in­come hous­ing; build hous­ing on sur­plus state prop­erty; and ease en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion laws to help en­cour­age more hous­ing. He pro­poses with­hold­ing money if lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties don't meet their hous­ing goals or stand up home­less shel­ters.

Sen. Scott Wiener of San Fran­cisco, the Demo­cratic chair­man of the Se­nate Hous­ing Com­mit­tee, called it a bold pro­posal to help over­come the state's need for 3.5 mil­lion new homes.

But the Cal­i­for­nia State As­so­ci­a­tion of Coun­ties ob­jects to New­som's pro­posal to tie trans­porta­tion fund­ing to new hous­ing units. The as­so­ci­a­tion's Darby Ker­nan said it is con­cern­ing that New­som would with­hold crit­i­cal trans­porta­tion money when coun­ties rely on pri­vate de­vel­op­ers to build units.

MAR­I­JUANA The bud­get rec­om­mends a sharp in­crease in spend­ing for cannabis pro­grams. But it's an open ques­tion whether it will be enough to help steady Cal­i­for­nia's shaky le­gal mar­ket­place.

It rec­om­mends just over $200 mil­lion for mar­i­juana-re­lated ac­tiv­i­ties, more than a 50 per­cent boost from the cur­rent year. The state broadly le­gal­ized mar­i­juana on Jan. 1, 2018.

In­come from the state's ex­cise tax on mar­i­juana is pro­jected to be $355 mil­lion by the end of June, roughly half of what was once ex­pected. What that means is a lot of con­sumers are still buy­ing pot in il­le­gal shops — where there are no taxes — rather than in li­censed dis­pen­saries.

The courts bud­get in­cludes nearly $14 mil­lion for re­sen­tenc­ing of thou­sands of drug of­fend­ers whose of­fenses are no longer crimes since Cal­i­for­nia le­gal­ized recre­ational pot. CRIM­I­NAL JUS­TICE New­som says he plans to end Cal­i­for­nia's cur­rent ju­ve­nile jus­tice sys­tem "as we know it," in­clud­ing by shift­ing the state's few re­main­ing ju­ve­nile jus­tice fa­cil­i­ties from the cor­rec­tions de­part­ment to the Health and Hu­man Ser­vices Agency.

About 650 youth are in state lock­ups, down from more than 10,000 in the early 2000s. San Joaquin County pro­ba­tion chief Stephanie James, pres­i­dent of the Chief Pro­ba­tion Of­fi­cers of Cal­i­for­nia, said New­som's pro­posal could im­peril re­forms made in ju­ve­nile jus­tice over the last decade. Law­mak­ers have re­jected pre­vi­ous at­tempts to send all ju­ve­nile of­fend­ers to county lock­ups.

The bud­get projects $78.5 mil­lion in sav­ings from a 2014 bal­lot ini­tia­tive that re­duced crim­i­nal penal­ties and re­quires that the sav­ings be spent on re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion pro­grams. That's up nearly $14 mil­lion over last year.

IM­MI­GRA­TION New­som pro­posed ex­pand­ing Medi-cal cov­er­age to im­mi­grants who are young adults and lack le­gal sta­tus in the United States at a cost of $260 mil­lion. In Cal­i­for­nia, peo­ple who can't prove they're legally in the coun­try age out of full-scope Medi-cal cov­er­age when they turn 19. New­som's pro­posal would raise the cut­off to age 26.

The bud­get also in­cludes $25 mil­lion for an im­mi­gra­tion rapidresponse pro­gram to help ad­dress the cri­sis on the bor­der fol­low­ing the ar­rival of Cen­tral Amer­i­can mi­grants. It also in­cludes $75 mil­lion for im­mi­gra­tion-re­lated ser­vices in­clud­ing le­gal as­sis­tance for col­lege stu­dents.

ED­U­CA­TION The bud­get in­cludes a $3 bil­lion one-time pay­ment to Cal­i­for­nia's teacher pen­sion fund on be­half of schools to help dis­tricts that are see­ing more of their bud­gets eaten up by pen­sion obli­ga­tions.

New­som wants $1.4 bil­lion for higher ed­u­ca­tion, in­clud­ing about $400 mil­lion for the com­mu­nity col­lege sys­tem aimed at waiv­ing sec­ond-year tu­ition.

New­som wants to in­vest $500 mil­lion in in­fra­struc­ture to pro­vide more child­care and $750 mil­lion for kinder­garten pro­grams. He also wants to boost a tax credit for fam­i­lies by more than a half-bil­lion dol­lars. RE­SERVES, DEBTS AND

PEN­SIONS The gov­er­nor wants to set aside $13.6 bil­lion for sav­ings, pay­ing down debts and tak­ing a bite out of un­funded li­a­bil­i­ties for re­tiree pen­sions.

His pro­posal would use $4 bil­lion to pay off debts ac­cu­mu­lated dur­ing the Great Re­ces­sion as the state bor­rowed from ded­i­cated funds, in­clud­ing trans­porta­tion ac­counts, to pay for gen­eral ex­penses. It would add $700 mil­lion to a safety net re­serve ac­count cre­ated last year to pro­tect ser­vices for the poor dur­ing a re­ces­sion.

New­som wants to pay down a chunk of the $257 bil­lion in un­funded li­a­bil­i­ties for re­tiree pen­sions and health care with a $4.8 bil­lion pay­ment.

Cal­i­for­nia Gov. Gavin New­som presents his first state bud­get dur­ing a news con­fer­ence Thurs­day, Jan. 10, in Sacra­mento, Calif.

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