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Gov. Jerry Brown will slash higher education, child care and school bus service, but he will largely spare K-12 classrooms from mid-year cuts under a revised budget forecast released today.

K-12 school districts were at risk of losing as much $1.5 billion - the equivalent of seven instructional days - under the budget Brown and lawmakers enacted earlier this year. But they will face a smaller $79.6 million reduction in general funding. That should avert massive reductions in the school calendar or other drastic measures for most districts.

"It turns out the cuts are far less than they would have been," Brown said.

Districts will still face a $248 million elimination of school bus funding, however. Jill Wynns, president of the California School Boards Association, said districts will cut somewhere other than buses because they are mandated by federal law to provide transportation for students with disabilities.

Colleges, child care, libraries, counties and disabled services will all face the knife as well. A full list is here.

Some cuts will be more immediate than others, based on how well positioned each program is to handle an immediate loss in funds.

University of California will absorb its $100 million cut by tapping reserves, and activists for disabled residents are challenging a $100 million cut to In-Home Supportive Services in court. But rural and low-income residents may lose free access to library services outside their home area, while some families could lose subsidized child care.

California Community Colleges Chancellor Jack Scott said Tuesday he anticipates the latest cuts will lead to a $10 per unit hike from $36 to $46 starting with the summer 2012 term. That comes after a fall 2011 increase from $26 to $36. Scott believes the new fee hike will remain permanent given the state's ongoing budget problems.

All told, the state will impose trigger cuts of $980 million, less than half the amount the Legislative Analyst's Office predicted last month.

The Analyst's Office predicted that K-12 schools faced a $1.1 billion cut in classroom funding alone and the elimination of school bus money.

Brown's forecast is better than the Analyst's in part because the governor's Department of Finance had another month of data to review. Department of Finance Director Ana Matosantos said a variety of differences, from strong November sales taxes to higher revenues from millionaires, contributed to the difference in forecasts.

Updated at 2:15 p.m.


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