Gov. Jerry Brown this week predicted that his 2012 pension law will survive union challenges in court and blow a hole in the so-called "California rule" that has restricted changes to public employee retirement plans for half a century.
The proposal now awaits approval by the California State Legislature in June to be passed as part of the budget, which takes effect July 1. This year, with only six months of taxing, the budget estimates $175 million in pot taxes.
One of the biggest goals involves filling the Rainy Day Fund with a $3.5 billion supplemental payment plus a constitutionally required transfer.
Groups advocating for marijuana users say the massive windfall is unjustified, and they called on the state to reduce taxes and fees to make cannabis more affordable in the regulated market. In a news release, Brown said full implementation of the LCFF, which was enacted in 2013 to increase support for the state's neediest students and allow school districts to have more flexibility over how money is spent in schools, is two years ahead of schedule.
"As Gov. Brown comes to the end of his administration, we applaud him for his demonstrated commitment to greater accountability, transparency and improved completion", Siqueiros said. "Here, modesty is not good enough".
Brown also expressed concerns that the new federal tax bill would hit high-end taxpayers in California and tempt them to leave the state.
Anthony Wright, executive director of the nonprofit Health Access California, cites an expected $6.1 billion surplus he said could have been used to move California toward universal health care coverage.
Republicans generally praised the governor's fiscal caution but want any extra money to be spent not on social services, but instead on paying down pension and retiree health care debt - and on infrastructure.
Sen. Jeff Stone, R-Riverside County, supported the governor's plan to bolster the rainy day fund, but suggested that the level of the surplus gives the state plenty of room to return some of the money to taxpayers "to mitigate any negative impacts that may come from the recently adopted federal tax reform legislation". The Senate is committed to protecting that progress, and building for the future with this budget.
"I thank the governor for maintaining the three-year commitment to increasing access and funding for early childhood education opportunities, including providing another almost 3,000 preschool slots, and for proposing a $167 million competitive grant for inclusive early education and care". And his $12 billion spending plan for the state's prison and parole system includes new money to train ex-felons to become firefighters.
Taxes on recreational pot sales, which launched January 1, will bring in $643 million, Brown predicted. "This year shows that, because if we didn't start with a $1 billion reserve we would be in deficit". And community college students were more likely than students at both public and private four-year institutions to be enrolled in at least one distance-education course. The proposed budget will provide $11,614 per pupil in the next fiscal year, compared with $7,008 in 2011-12. Republicans are looking to ask voters to overturn the tax hike but Brown said he's not concerned. Brown's higher ed proposal.
Brown has focused much of his second stint as governor on stabilizing the state's long-term budgeting during a period of fiscal prosperity. The state's budget has grown 45 percent since 2011, when he took office facing a $25 billion deficit.