California Gov. Jerry Brown proposed a 2013-2014 state budget Wednesday that projects a surplus by the end of fiscal 2014. The projected surplus of $851 million is based on the assumption that all of Brown’s proposals are adopted by the state legislature, according to the governor.
If Brown’s budget predictions are correct, it will be only the second time the state has budget surplus in the last decade.
While it may be too early to tell just how dramatic the impact will be for local state-funded services like College of the Canyons’ Valencia and Canyon Country campuses, higher education officials are optimistic about the writing on the wall.
“This is an encouraging budget,” said Eric Harnish, intergovermental relations officer for College of the Canyons. “After $20 million in cuts over the last four years, we’re finally headed in the right direction.”
He cautioned that it might take more than a little black ink to restore the college’s funding to its pre-recession levels.
“This budget the governor proposed, it doesn’t restore all of the funding that we’ve lost, but it will definitely help us add back classes and services that will benefit our students and the local businesses we serve,” he said.
While employing belt tightening in many areas, the latest budget expands state spending in others. California’s K-12 schools would see a $2.7 billion increase over last year’s budget, receiving a total of $56.2 billion in state funds. School funding would rise to over $66 billion by 2016. The University of California and California State University systems would also receive an additional $500 million in the coming year.
Susan Hoerber, Chief Financial Officer of the William S. Hart Union High School District, said it is too soon to determine how the new budget will affect Santa Clarita public schools. Hoerber expects to know more next week once the projected budget has been broken down into county and city figures.
The new budget would also add $350 million to Medi-Cal, the state’s public insurance program, to be used to help implement the 2010 “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” on the state level.
Brown was able to balance the budget in part due to $6 billion in new state revenues generated by tax and fee increases approved by voters in November. Brown found additional savings through budget cuts to local government agencies throughout the state.
With Democrats firmly in control of the state Legislature, Brown’s budget will likely not result in the partisan rancor and high drama of previous state budget battles.