In his first official response this week, Gov. Jerry Brown said the budget proposed by legislative Democrats includes tough cuts but is "not structurally balanced and puts us into a hole in succeeding years."
Brown focused specifically on Democrats' rejection of his overhaul of welfare-to-work, which would save $880 million in the first year by creating significantly new programs with harsher consequences for welfare families. The governor took exception to the idea that Democrats instead want to save a smaller amount for one year by allowing parents of young children to receive welfare grants without trying to find a job.
"Last year, legislators enacted major reforms that cut spending on prisons and eliminated redevelopment," Brown said in an e-mail statement. "This year, we need additional structural reforms to cut spending on an ongoing basis, including welfare reform that's built on President Clinton's framework and focused on getting people back to work."
"I don't know that President Clinton was dealing with an economy like ours today," Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, said earlier in his budget committee when a Brown aide made the same argument.
The governor's plan would cut off parents from welfare grants and child care after two years instead of four if they do not find work or continue to pursue training. It would also shift child-only cases to a new "Child Maintenance" program with a 27 percent cut in grants - from $516 to $375 monthly for a family of three. Many of those child-only cases involve families with parents who have either exhausted their time limit on welfare or parents ineligible to meet federal work requirements because they are undocumented, though their children are legal citizens.
Legislative Democrats have publicly rejected this proposal and instead want to save $327 million by allowing parents of young children to receive welfare grants without seeking a job - as long as they forego child care and other support services. The state saves more money in the short term by allowing people to stop finding work because child care and training is more expensive than monthly cash grants.
The Senate budget committee voted 9-3 against Brown's proposal and for its own plan Tuesday afternoon. Democrats argued against the governor's idea because they said it was wrong to cut off families from state aid when so few people can find jobs.
Democratic leaders have met with the governor and his aides today as they try to reach consensus before legislative floor votes Friday. That is the constitutional deadline by which they must send Brown a balanced budget in order to continue getting paid.
The governor last year vetoed the Democrats' first budget, which he considered too gimmicky and not balanced in nature.
Brown concluded his Tuesday statement, "Balancing the budget is critical to protecting education for the long-term. We're not there yet."