Lawmakers Nearing Deal On California Budget

Democratic leaders in the Senate and the Assembly are nailing down a final deal on the state budget, sources in the Capitol said Tuesday, but an agreement with Gov. Jerry Brown hasn’t been reached yet.
A joint budget committee with lawmakers from both houses is scheduled to meet in the afternoon, the sources said, and it could finish its work by the end of the day.
The sources declined to be identified discussing details of the negotiations before the hearing.
Under the compromise, lawmakers would keep the middle class scholarship, a program that Senate leader Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) wanted to eliminate.
However, some changes would be made — such as a four-year limit for assistance and an asset test to ensure the scholarships are not benefiting wealthy families — to free up additional money for the California State University system.
The lawmakers’ plans include more funding for child care, but the money would not be drawn from the state’s education funding formula, a step that had been opposed by the teachers union and other organizations.
A compromise is also being reached on Medi-Cal, the public healthcare program. Under the deal, the state’s payments to dentists who serve poor patients would increase this year. A broader boost for all doctors would not take effect until April.
Reaching a deal paves the way for the full Legislature to vote on a final budget plan on Monday, the constitutional deadline. But it still leaves open the possibility of a confrontation with Brown, who can veto individual items from the budget after it’s passed by lawmakers.
As in previous years, the disagreement revolves around the question of how much money is available for spending. The lawmakers’ budget plans are built with numbers from nonpartisan legislative analysts, whose revenue estimates are higher than the Brown administration’s.
Even though revenue has routinely outpaced the governor’s expectations, Brown has continued to insist on the lower figures.
H.D. Palmer, spokesman for Brown’s Department of Finance, confirmed that the governor has not reached a deal on spending with lawmakers.
“The Legislature is aware of our concerns with their higher revenue numbers, which is built on the most volatile revenue source there is, which is capital gains.”
Follow @chrismegerian for more updates from Sacramento.
Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times