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    Basics of Governor Brown’s Budget

    philThe New Year is a fresh start, offering everyone a chance to make improvements. The State of California faces the same opportunity through its annual budget process, which began this month when Governor Jerry Brown released his budget proposal.

    As I review and improve Brown’s spending plan through my work on the Assembly Budget Committee, my decisions will be shaped by our need for a budget that broadens opportunity today while responsibly saving for the future.

    Most individuals and businesses apply the same outlook in managing their finances. Applying it to the direction of nearly $122 billion in state funds comes with challenges in a legislature composed of 120 members. As the old saying goes, the devil is in the details. Before we get to them, it is important to note the context of Brown’s budget.

    California now enjoys unprecedented financial stability. This outcome is the result of many tough cuts imposed during the Great Recession as well as new revenues made possible by our growing economy and voter approval of new taxes under Proposition 30, in 2012. In sum, California transitioned from record budget deficits to a minor budget surplus.

    Our improved finances are also due to voter approval of Proposition 2, in 2014. It enables the state to amass savings to mitigate tough times in the future. This was a pivotal reform. No one would advise a loved one to live paycheck to paycheck, which is basically how the state operated its finances until now.

    Overall, Brown is taking a very cautious approach in his proposed budget. Judge for yourself by visiting

    I am very encouraged by Brown’s commitment to prioritizing education. For K–12, he proposes unprecedented funding levels. He also seeks to accelerate school funding reforms that provide more resources to help foster youth, English language learners and students from low-income families. These will benefit students in need around the Bay Area. In higher education, Brown’s budget would continue to keep tuition rates flat at state universities, and expand career technical education opportunities at our community colleges.

    A quality education positions our kids for better success and stability in life. We must fulfill the promise of an affordable college degree for all students who work hard.

    In future, I expect to see significant debate with the Governor about funding for healthcare and developmental disabilities, affordable housing, fighting climate change, and upgrading our infrastructure. All of these issues remain unresolved from our budget process last year. Brown even declared special sessions of the Legislature to focus on the first two of these issues. Unfortunately, we have not yet had a breakthrough because it takes a two-thirds vote to change our tax system, a threshold requiring a bipartisan agreement. This may be difficult to achieve because Republicans ousted their Assembly and Senate leadership last year in order to bolster their anti-tax credentials.

    With revenues from Proposition 30 starting to phase out next year and a range of potential tax initiatives coming to the ballot this fall, elected leaders cannot simply sit on the sidelines like spectators. We must do the job we were elected to perform and govern. By coming together, we can leave California better off than we found it.

    Phil Ting represents the 19th Assembly District, which includes the Westside of San Francisco along with the communities of Broadmoor, Colma, and Daly City.