Gov. Jerry Brown called Monday for additional spending cuts to health and welfare programs, as well as a 5 percent furlough for state workers, to help erase a budget deficit that has grown to $15.7 billion.
The Democratic governor relies on a patchwork of solutions to bridge the gap in a $91.4 billion general fund spending plan, including deeper cuts, his November tax initiative and taking money from a multi-state mortgage abuse settlement with banks.
Among the most unusual ideas: asking state employees to work four days a week for a total of 38 hours instead of 40, or 9.5-hour shifts. Brown suggested in the budget that the proposal would save operational costs by shutting down offices once a week in addition to 5 percent of salary. The proposal would likely have to be bargained with labor unions since Democratic lawmakers will not impose the cuts unilaterally.
The governor also proposed giving UC $38 million less than he did earlier this year. Both proposals make it more likely that UC will raise tuition in 2012-13 after UC officials said last week they needed an additional $125 million to avoid a 6 percent hike on students.
The governor said the state deficit had grown well beyond the $9.2 billion he originally estimated in January because of an overly optimistic revenue forecast and federal rejections of cuts in Medi-Cal and in-home care
Brown said the state and the nation has been living beyond its means. "There has to be a balance and a day of reckoning," Brown said. "This is a type of a day of reckoning, and we've got to take the medicine."
The governor proposed additional cuts to Cal Grants for low-income students that would apply a stricter means test and impose new graduation requirements on schools.
Among the new health and welfare cuts: Brown is asking for a 7 percent cut in hours for In-Home Supportive Services recipients, as well as reduced payments to hospitals and nursing homes serving Medi-Cal patients.
The governor also wants to cut $544 million from the state's trial courts, $300 million from their reserves and $240 million by delaying court construction. The remaining $4 million would come from hiking employee retirement contributions from 5 percent to 8 percent.
Brown's budget still relies on most of the cuts he proposed in January, including a massive overhaul of welfare-to-work that would reduce the amount of time recipients could stay in the program unless they meet work requirements. He did soften some of the measures, such as phasing in the welfare cut on a slower track. He also provided more money for child care for low-income parents who had been planning to send their 4-year-olds to transitional kindergarten.
In a quirk of state budget law, even though revenues are down, the requirement for funding K-12 schools and community colleges will go up next school year.
It is not entirely clear what this will mean for K-12 school districts, most of which are already laying off teachers and increasing class sizes because they are assuming a worst-case scenario in which voters will reject the governor's tax initiative.
Brown previously asked districts not to do that, and his new budget lays out an alternative path in which he wants them to cut three weeks of school across the next two school years - averaging a week and a half in each year - if his tax measure fails.
The governor again proposed that most cuts fall on K-12 schools and higher education if voters reject his tax initiative. Those cuts would be greater, though the impact on K-12 is not significantly different than what he proposed in January.
K-12 schools and community colleges would receive a combined $5.5 billion less if the tax measure fails, split about evenly between a lack of debt repayment and program cuts.
"What will change if we don't get the taxes," Brown said Monday morning, "is schools will suffer."
The University of California and California State University systems would each receive $250 million less - a $50 million deeper cut than Brown proposed in January -- if the tax increases fail.