What they’re saying about Brown’s budget

We’ve included some reactions to Gov. Jerry Brown’s May budget revision in our main story, but here are some more.

From Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, D-San Diego:

Toni Atkins“The Governor’s revised budget provides a solid starting point for the final phase of our deliberations. I am particularly pleased the Governor has built upon the framework Assembly Democrats proposed for a STRS solution earlier this year. That, and the Rainy Day Fund we are poised to pass this week, are two great steps forward to ensure California’s economic stability. As we finalize the budget over the next few weeks, we will also look to expand opportunity by combatting child poverty, improving access to higher education, increasing funding for transportation projects, and taking strides to expand affordable housing. Based on the Governor’s May revision and the more than 50 hearings the Assembly has already held, I am confident we are on track for another on-time, balanced budget – one that will help solidify the state’s fiscal position for years to come.”

From State Senate Budget Committee Vice Chair Jim Nielsen, R-Chico:

Jim Nielsen“The Governor should be commended for proposing to set aside $1.6 billion for the Rainy Day fund; and to pay down $11 billion in debt but this is a mere 3 percent of the state’s $340 billion debt.

“Unfortunately, his budget also includes increased spending on permanent programs that will inevitably take us back to deficit spending.

“More money needs to be set aside for the Rainy Day Fund and for emergencies like wildfires, natural disasters and public safety.

“State revenues are forecast to increase by $2.4 billion. While this appears to be good news, this is a veneer generated by a temporary tax that was promised for education and public safety; and will expire in three years.

“The high speed rail from Merced to Bakersfield is a boondoggle not worthy of precious taxpayers’ dollars.

“In the coming months, the Legislature must rectify the Governor’s failure to help counties protect their citizens by providing more funding for realignment. Counties need money for rehabilitation, inmate housing and supervision, and court costs.

“The administration is releasing the second class of realignment prisoners, making our communities more dangerous. State leaders shouldn’t wait for a catastrophe before we fix this ill-conceived program.”

From state Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett, D-San Leandro:

Ellen Corbett“Coupled with last week’s bipartisan Rainy Day Fund agreement, today’s budget revision further sets California on track to fiscal health and economic growth so that all Californians may benefit from our state’s improving economy.”

“I praise the Governor’s short and long term commitment to supporting education at all levels, including career technical education at our state’s community colleges and high speed internet access at our K-12 schools that need it the most. California’s future depends largely on our continued investment in today’s students, so we must ensure that California’s education system is strong and offers students the needed preparatory tools to enter an increasingly global and technological job market.”

“I also thank the Governor for committing to help ensure the long term solvency of the teacher pension system. It is critical that we help secure the retirements of California’s educators.”

“I am pleased that the Governor’s revised budget also proposes significantly increased access to health care for millions of Californians through Medi-Cal and Covered California. We must certainly continue to restore the frayed safety net upon which many of my 10th State Senate District constituents rely during these still tough economic times.”

From State Board of Equalization member George Runner:

“The Governor is on the right track in proposing a budget that has no new taxes, contains ongoing expenses, pays down debt and begins to address the state’s growing pension costs.

“I just wish the Governor would repeal the fire tax and stop the bullet train.

“In addition, California continues to rank as the worst state to do business in an annual survey of business leaders.

“The next test for the Governor will be how he deals with legislators who want to raise taxes and spend billions more. Will he hold the line?”

More, after the jump…

From state Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff, R-Brea:

“I am glad to see the governor is continuing to prioritize fiscal responsibility. Spending restraint has been our mantra for years. I appreciate that he borrowed heavily from Republican proposals like the rainy day reserve, paying off our debts and addressing unfunded liabilities like CalSTRS. The governor has been pretty responsible thus far with his budget plans, and any unanticipated tax revenues must go to reducing that mountain of debt.

“Certainly the state budget is on more solid ground, and we are not debating spending cuts and more taxes. That’s because the voters approved a $45 billion tax increase that was intended for education and public safety. But it doesn’t look like that’s where all of the money is going.

“This is not an austere budget by any stretch. The governor proposes to increase spending by $12 billion over last year’s budget. That’s probably more than we should be doing right now. One thing is clear – there is no budget ‘surplus’ in California. When you have identified over $340 billion of state debt and unfunded liabilities, as the Legislative Analyst has, you cannot claim to have surplus revenues. That debt load is nearly $9,000 for every single Californian.

“One of our biggest concerns is that he is still pushing High Speed Rail when it’s obviously a massive boondoggle. This is going to be a drain on taxpayers for decades or longer. His call for ‘doubling down’ on it by using Cap & Trade funding is a losing proposition. The Legislative Analyst has said it is legally risky to link the bullet train to the cap-and-trade fund.

“The use of Cap and Trade taxes for unjustified purposes will hurt our economy and result in more job losses. Our energy costs are already among the highest in the nation and we don’t need people paying an extra $1 a gallon for gas right now – or ever.

“Finally, this budget fails to do enough to help counties deal with the ongoing problems from his public safety realignment. The evidence of a significant threat to our communities is mounting and we shouldn’t wait for a catastrophe before we fix it.

“Overall, I think this is a pretty good budget plan and I hope the Democrats don’t undermine the effort to be fiscally responsible by adding billions in pork spending. Their special interests are ramping up the rhetoric for more spending increases, and it is an election year. Democrats operate Sacramento under one-party rule and it’s up to the governor to hold the line against his party. Otherwise, Democrats will bear full responsibility if they repeat their past mistakes and take California back into budget deficits.”

From Assembly Budget Committee Chairwoman Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley:

“With state revenue forecasted to be $2 billion above January projections, the Governor’s May Revise demonstrates once again California’s economic recovery is continuing. The Governor’s proposal has increased funding to our K-12 schools and courts, as well as paying down debt and building reserves.

“As the Governor himself stated, it is now the Legislature’s turn to review, revise and negotiate. In the Assembly we recognize that after years of late and imbalanced budgets and huge reductions in core areas that Californians yearn for both financial stability and for the State’s economic recovery to improve quality and access to education, health care and opportunity. So yes, there are things the Legislature will want to do that are not yet reflected in the May revise, meaningful things in early and higher education, in ensuring healthcare access, and in closing the opportunity gap.

“We look forward to a stimulating three weeks of Budget Committee hearings and actions as we make our case to the Governor for a budget that identifies some expenditures that may be as important to fiscal health as our commitment to saving for a rainy day and paying down debt.”

From state Senate Budget Committee member Tom Berryhill, R-Modesto:

“There is no surplus in California’s so-called surplus. Last week’s report by the Legislative Analyst Office pretty much lays it out – we are in deep debt down the road – yet, I hear calls from my legislative colleagues for more spending on almost every program in the budget.

“Rather than new spending let’s get rid of the fire tax and any other taxes or fees unfairly placed on some communities when the economy was bad. The last thing we need is more spending adding to the real crisis that will occur 10 to 20 years from now, when our kids are saddled with crippling debt.”

From Assemblyman Rob Bonta, D-Alameda:

“I am very pleased Governor Brown has followed the Assembly’s lead and is taking on the challenge of finding a solution to the CalSTRS funding issue this year rather than put it off for another year as he originally proposed. Based on the most recent numbers,. CalSTRS has a shortfall in funding of approximately $74 billion and will run out of funding for the program by 2046 if no changes occur.”

From Assembly Speaker Emeritus John Perez, D-Los Angeles:

“Much of the Governor’s proposal reflects the hard work done by the Assembly to tackle one of the most urgent long-term fiscal challenges facing California. The solution we enact must be balanced and comprehensive, reflecting our commitment to shared responsibility over the long-term that achieves 100 percent funding for CalSTRS and ensures California’s hardworking teachers will have the retirement they’ve earned. My colleagues and I are confident in the leadership of Speaker Atkins, Senate Pro Tem Steinberg and Governor Brown to pass a comprehensive, balanced solution as we move forward in the budget process.”

From Assemblyman Bob Wieckowski, D-Fremont:

“The Governor’s May Revise is a reflection of the economic growth and turnaround California has experienced in the past four years. Instead of facing a $26 billion deficit like we did in the Governor’s first year, our state is in a much stronger position to meet the challenges ahead. Through tough, but necessary savings and some targeted investments in key areas, we are now well positioned for the state’s fourth on-time budget in a row.

“Restoring some vital services now can go a long way toward helping more people share in the prosperity our state is seeing and provide them with more opportunities in the future.

“I applaud the Governor’s decision to better fund the teachers retirement pension system, but I believe we should move more aggressively to restore the deep cuts that were made to the Judicial Branch. More than 50 courthouses and 205 courtrooms have closed across the state, forcing parties, law enforcement, witnesses and jurors to travel longer distances just to have access to justice. The proposed $160 million for trial court funding is still less than half of what the third branch says it needs to avoid further cuts. While our courts should always seek ways to operate more efficiently, additional savings will fall far short of the $336 million that is needed to make them operate smoothly and provide the access to justice all Californians deserve.”

From California Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye:

“The Governor’s revised budget is encouraging because it identifies additional funding and recognizes the need for fiscal stability with a creative proposal for a two-year budgeting formula for the trial courts. I also appreciate the Governor’s continued confidence in the statewide leadership of the judicial branch. I’m launching my blue ribbon commission on the future of the courts later this year and I believe this initiative dovetails with the Governor’s desire that the judicial branch identify further efficiencies to promote access to justice.

“As I outlined in my budget blueprint earlier this year, the trial courts will require a reinvestment to provide adequate services for court users. I look forward to working with the Governor and the Legislature before the adoption of the Budget Act to ensure that all Californians have access to justice.”

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.