SACRAMENTO (CBS/AP) – A robust economic recovery and surging revenue propelled by voter-approved tax increases has sent California’s general fund spending to a record high, but Gov. Jerry Brown is pledging a somber approach to the windfall.
In introducing his budget proposal Thursday, the Democratic governor said beginning to pay down California’s massive “wall of debt” must be a priority.
“By no means are we out of the wilderness. We have serious issues before us in terms of long-term liabilities, debts and we must be very prudent in the way we spend public funds,” Brown said.
His budget proposal for the 2014-15 fiscal year dedicates $11 billion to paying down debts and liabilities, including $6 billion in payments that had been deferred to schools.
Brown calls for $10 billion in new spending for k-12 schools, about $700 per student next year. He also wants to infuse both the University of California and California State University systems with an additional $2.9 billion each year.
The proposal also calls for an additional $670 million in spending for the Medi-Cal system.
He also sets aside $1.6 billion for a rainy day fund to protect against future downturns, saying “wisdom and prudence should be the order of the day.”
The record $106.8 billion general fund exceeds the spending level of just before the recession by more than $3 billion and is a nearly 9 percent increase over spending in the current fiscal year.
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