- Associated Press - Thursday, January 7, 2016

Gov. Jerry Brown proposed a $122.6 billion general fund spending plan Thursday, bringing California’s overall spending to an all-time high of $170.6 billion. The budget sets the stage for a months-long debate with the Legislature over spending priorities. Here’s a look at some of the numbers:


Schools get the lion’s share of California tax revenue thanks to the voter-approved Proposition 98. Brown proposes directing $71.6 billion from the general fund to public schools - an increase of $2.4 billion from the current year and more than $24 billion higher than state spending at the depth of the recession. Brown wants to direct additional money to public schools, bringing per-pupil spending to $14,500 in 2016-17. Higher education would also see an increase of 3.4 percent increase, to $30.4 billion in all.


Spending on Medi-Cal, the state’s health care program for the poor, is projected to increase 8 percent, to $19.1 billion in 2016-17, as California forecasts 13.5 million enrollees. That’s nearly a third of California’s population, and it includes about 170,000 children in the country illegally who are expected to receive full coverage starting May 1.


Gov. Jerry Brown is bringing back his transportation funding proposal to address an estimated $59 billion backlog in road repairs. He wants to raise $2 billion from a new $65 fee on all vehicles, and increase gasoline and diesel taxes to generate $1 billion annually. The $3.6 billion-a-year spending plan is less than the $6 billion annually that experts have estimated the state should invest.


Brown is proposing to put $2 billion more than required into the state’s rainy day fund, which would bring its balance to $8 billion by the end of the upcoming fiscal year. Still, he warns that the state has $224 billion in liabilities, nearly all stemming from unfunded retirement liabilities for state and University of California employees.


Spending on corrections rises only slightly, to $10.55 billion from $10.4 billion in the current fiscal year. It includes $116 million to keep inmates in private prisons in other states, $6 million for repairs at the California Rehabilitation Center east of Los Angeles and $29.3 million for community rehabilitation programs through a voter-approved lowering of penalties for some drug and property crimes. That figure is far less than advocates had predicted.


The budget proposes a one-time sum of $323 million to address drought in the coming fiscal year. With reservoirs and groundwater supplies “significantly depleted,” the budget proposes protecting water supplies, conserving water and providing emergency assistance to farm workers, fish and wildlife. There is also an extra $215 million in anticipation of extra costs to fight wildfires as a result of the drought.


The proposal allocates $385 million from the Proposition 1 water bond voters approved in 2014 for projects such as improving the state’s water delivery system. Brown is proposing $100 million to protect the Central Valley from flooding, $80 million to restore a critical resting stop on the Salton Sea for migratory birds and another $60 million in habitat restoration in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.

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