Legislative Democrats are bracing for "more work on the cuts side" once Gov. Jerry Brown releases his revised budget next week, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg told reporters during a weekly q-and-a in his office.
"We all expect the news to be rough. That's no secret," the Sacramento Democrat said.
That will likely mean more steep cuts to the state's health and human services programs. An estimated $1.5 billion lawmakers had hoped to reserve for affordable housing programs is also "certainly a very ripe candidate" for use for general budget relief, he said.
"We have not shied away from doing what we have to do and we won't shy away now," he said. "But we will certainly fight to save more than we lose.'
When asked what areas he hopes to protect from future reductions, Steinberg cited CalWorks, the state's welfare-to-work program, as a top priority. He said studies showing correlation between cuts to those services and homelessness make the decision "one of those can you sleep at night kind of questions."
"I would do just about anything to avoid that cut," he said.
Brown's budget is expected to rely on up to $9 billion in revenues from his proposed initiative to temporarily raise income taxes for top earners and enact a quarter percent increase in the state sales tax, with a round of "trigger" cuts after the election if the November ballot measure fails. While the revenues at stake on the November ballot has grown since the governor's January budget proposal because of changes to the tax plan, Steinberg said he expects the triggers to still target K-12 schools, higher education and the courts.
"I don't see that the fundamentals will change even if the number changes," Steinberg said. "But you've got to make up for a bigger number."
PHOTO CREDIT: Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, speaks at the Capitol Bureau on Jan. 20, 2011. Hector Amezcua, Sacramento Bee.