Brown unveils budget, talks begin

Read Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed budget here, but don’t expect any cheery news.

It contains big cuts in everything from childcare subsidies to higher education.

And expect a lot of talk around this innocent-sounding word: Realignment.

It refers to Brown’s interest in shifting responsibility away from the state to local government. The idea is to send the money chiefly to counties that the state spends on programs such as incarceration of short-term prisoners, individuals on probation and court security. In return, local governments will decide how much they want to pay to provide the services.

Brown’s plan freezes redevelopment agencies going forward but keeps intact existing projects. The money would instead go to local agencies and schools.

The success of Brown’s proposal depends a great deal on whether or not voters will agree, probably in June, to extend taxes five years.  First, though, Brown must persuade legislators to place the measure on the ballot, a very difficult proposition given Democrats’ unhappiness with cuts to social services and Republicans’ desire to avoid tax hikes.

Lisa Vorderbrueggen