Jerry Brown Proposes $190.3 Billion Budget Democrats Intend to Bust

AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli
AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli

California Gov. Jerry Brown has proposed a $190.3 billion budget for the 2018-19 fiscal year, beginning July 1 — which the state’s Democrat-controlled legislature intends to bust.

For the sixteenth time in his four terms as governor, Jerry Brown proposed a balanced budget by Jan. 10. This year’s budget includes a $5 billion increase for the voter-approved Proposition 2 “rainy day” fund, increasing its allocation to $13.5 billion.

Brown’s budget proposal is a direct challenge to the Democrats’ budget plan, announced in December, to spend $4.3 billion more than Brown on social justice issues — including providing illegal aliens with eligibility for California’s Medicaid program; expanding a tax credit for the working poor; boosting preschool and child care; and increasing college scholarships to reduce reliance on student loans.

Brown’s latest budget is up by 1,655 percent from his first $11.5 billion proposed budget for the 1975-76 fiscal year. But Brown’s 2018-19 proposal is up only 44 percent from his 2011-12 proposed budget of $130.9 billion, according to the Calmatters blog.

Brown earned the nickname “Governor Moonbeam” in his first stint as a budget-busting progressive governor in the 1970s. Voters turned their wrath on Brown’s leadership by passing the Proposition 13 initiative in 1978, which amended the California Constitution to limit the legislature’s ability to raise property taxes to increase spending.

Due to the Great Recession that began in 2008-9, Brown had to manage through a $25.4 billion budget deficit he inherited in his first year back in the governor’s mansion after a 28-year interlude. At the time, California had suffered operating deficits since 2001.

Brown balanced California’s 2011-12 budget by cutting General Fund spending by 8.2 percent. He slashed Democrat priorities including education, health and human services, corrections, environmental protection, courts, and state government operations.

Now, Brown says legal rulings may clear the way for making cuts to public pension benefits, which would go against long-standing assumptions, and potentially provide financial relief to the state and its local governments.

In addition, Brown continues to warn that the next recession could devastate state revenues, and could force painful spending cuts and even cuts to public employee pensions.

Brown received 60 percent voter approvals for most of his last seven years as governor. But his most recent USC Dornsife job approval rating in November found his support had fallen to just 44 percent, as both liberals and conservatives seem tired of Brown.

According to the progressive Observer blog, the California Democratic Party’s progressive leadership blames Jerry Brown for suppressing efforts to ban hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”), offer “debt free” college, and implement the National Nurses United’s single-payer healthcare plan.

Sacramento Democrats see Brown’s pragmatic budgeting style as the political philosophy of a lame duck, with shriveling power to reward allies and punish enemies. With their dominant power in both the California Assembly and Senate, Sacramento Democrats seem ready to go on a spending spree.


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