Highlights of California’s 2013-14 state budget

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California budget

California budget (AP Photo)

Highlights of the budget the Legislature is sending to Gov. Jerry Brown for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

SPENDING:

- Projects the state will collect $97.1 billion in general fund revenue and adopts a $96.3 billion spending plan for the 2013-14-fiscal year starting July 1. It maintains a $1.1 billion reserve and pays down some of the debt accrued during the recession.

- An additional $42 billion will be spent from special funds and $7 billion from bond proceeds, bringing total state spending to $145.3 billion.

EDUCATION:

- Provides about $55.3 billion in local and state revenue for K-12 education and two-year community colleges under the state’s school funding minimum known as Proposition 98.

- Allocates $2.1 billion to begin moving to a new K-12 funding formula that would channel additional money to school districts with high levels of low-income students and those with limited English proficiency. The formula gives more money to school districts with higher proportions of children in those groups but met resistance from advocates for suburban and wealthier districts.

School districts will get more control of how to spend state aid. Democrats say districts will be held accountable, such as requiring them to create master plans to track the success of English learners. Republicans say the package lacks a requirement that the money be used on services and program that have proved effective.

- Spends $1.2 billion in one-time money for districts to implement the “common core” standards, which are more rigorous academically and are intended to better prepare students for college and a career. The money can be spent as districts choose on such areas teacher training, instructional materials and technology.

- Provides $250 million for career technical education grants to K-12 education and community colleges on a one-time basis.

HIGHER EDUCATION:

- Approves a 5 percent increase to the University of California and the California State University systems for $250 million in general fund spending. Each system will receive $125 million.

- Provides initial funding for college scholarships for students whose families earn less than $150,000 a year. California would establish a Middle Class Scholarship program beginning in the 2014 academic year. The scholarship would reduce student fees on a sliding scale based on income – up to 40 percent for families making less than $100,000 and up to 10 percent for families earning $150,000. The appropriation would be capped at $305 million annually once it is fully implemented.

Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen, R-Modesto, supported the higher education bill but said the measure should have included a tuition freeze. Assembly Speaker John Perez, who proposed the middle-class scholarship, said the program represents a form of direct aid to families. According to the speaker’s office, the scholarship would lower college fees from $12,192 to $7,315 at UCs and from $5,472 to $3,283 at CSU campuses for families making less than $100,000.

- Requires the University of California to use $15 million of its general fund to support a new medical school at its Riverside campus to help address the state’s doctor shortage.

HEALTH CARE:

- Expands the state’s Medicaid program, known as Medi-Cal, to some 1.4 million Californians under President Barack Obama’s health care reforms starting next year. Raises the income eligibility to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, or nearly $15,900 for a single adult or $32,500 for a family of four. The federal government will pay the entire amount of the expanded coverage from 2014 to 2016, gradually reducing that to a 90 percent share.

- Cuts $300 million in state funding to counties to provide indigent care and public health services as a result of moving more poor people into Medi-Cal, an expansion that initially will be funded entirely by the federal government. Under a compromise by Gov. Jerry Brown and Democratic leaders, some of the savings will be kept at the local level to pay for welfare programs.

The move was met with strong opposition by lawmakers representing rural counties who worried about being shortchanged. Sen. Ted Gaines, R-Rocklin, described it as a “huge loser” for his 11-county district in Northern California.

- Restores basic adult dental care starting in May 2014 for 3 million Medi-Cal recipients, which would allow the poor to receive preventive care and dentures. It would cost the state $16.9 million this fiscal year and $86 million in the next year.

MENTAL HEALTH:

- Provides $142 million in one-time general fund money to the California Health Facilities Financing Authority to provide mobile crisis teams and support to stabilize the mentally ill. Also supported by federal money and mental health funding from a 2004 ballot initiative known as Proposition 63.

WELFARE:

- Increases child care and preschool funding by more than $100 million and provides a 5 percent child grant increase starting in March for families on CalWORKS, the state’s welfare-to-work program.

- Allows a CalWORKS recipient to own a car valued up to $9,500, which is double the current limit, in order to qualify for benefits.

PROPOSITION 39

- This ballot initiative was approved by voters last fall and closed a corporate tax loophole, sending more money to state coffers. The state will spend a portion of Proposition 39 money on energy programs at public schools and community colleges. Specifically, the compromise devotes $428 million to energy programs, including $380 million for schools and $48 million for community colleges. An additional $28 million will go into a revolving loan program for both.

ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION

- Strengthens oversight of the California Public Utilities Commission by requiring the agency to use zero-based budgeting and report it to the Legislature in 18 months, establish an office of ratepayer advocate and notify lawmakers of future lawsuit settlements.

The state’s legislative analyst had recommended in February that auditors examine whether utility regulators are properly managing consumer-funded accounts for utility projects totaling hundreds of millions of dollars, raising the possibility that gas and electric ratepayers may have been overcharged. The analyst also raised questions about how the PUC oversees and audits accounts for the state’s three largest utilities – Pacific Gas & Electric Co., Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric.

COURTS:

- Restores $63 million to the state court system, less than court officials and some lawmakers had wanted.

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