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brownjanbudget.jpgGov. Jerry Brown will propose reducing the state's long-term debt by more than $11 billion next budget year and fully eliminating it by 2017-18, according to a copy of the budget document obtained by The Sacramento Bee.

He also will propose repaying about $6 billion in deferred payments to schools and contributing $1.6 billion to a rainy day fund.

Brown wants to restore some of the money cut from social service programs in recent years, and will propose a 5 percent increase in welfare grants.

The Democratic governor, who was scheduled to propose the budget plan Friday, shifted course after the document's leak, announcing he will introduce the proposal on Thursday, instead.

In the budget document, Brown calls for "fiscal restraint," saying "economic expansions do not last forever."

The budget projects $217.8 billion in unfunded retirement mandate and total state unfunded liabilities of $354 billion.

The budget calls for spending $154.9 billion from all funds, including $106.8 billion from the General Fund.

The plan's summary projects that spending on K-12 schools will grow to almost $70 billion by 2017-18, an increase of $22 billion from 2011-12.

The summary makes no mention of transitional kindergarten, something championed by Democrats in both the Assembly and Senate in recent days.

Brown proposes $670 million in new general fund spending to pay for the expansion of Medi-Cal benefits, including mental health, substance use disorder, adult dental and specialized nutrition services.

Several health-related programs would receive funding boosts. In-home supportive services, which saw dramatic reductions over recent years, will get a 6.4 percent increase over the current budget, bringing its general fund allotment to about $2 billion. Part of the increase stems from U.S. Department of Labor regulations that take effect Jan. 1, 2015 and require overtime pay for domestic workers.

Brown's budget proposal assumes that the state's finances will be sound enough to include $173.1 million for state employee pay increases to kick in July 1, although it doesn't firmly commit to it. About half that money will come from the general fund.

"A final determination will be made at the May Revision based on the latest revenue projections and updated expenditure information available," according to the draft document.

State managers and supervisors will receive similar pay hikes to avoid salary compaction, which occurs when rank-and-file wages exceed management's.

Brown's budget summary doesn't commit 2014-15 money to the struggling state teachers' retirement fund. Instead, "the Administration will begin working with the Legislature, school districts, teachers and the pension system," aiming to enact a plan in 2015-16 that will fully fund the system within 30 years.

Current obligations to CalSTRS' current and future retirees total $80.4 billion more than it has assets to cover. Stabilizing the system would require more than $4.5 billion per year for many years.

Unlike like other public pension systems, the California Teachers' Retirement System doesn't have the authority to charge employers more money to make up for investment losses. The Legislature has the power to raise employer rates or kick in money from state coffers.

Brown's summary suggests whatever plan emerges should phase in contribution increases over time and cautions that "school districts and community colleges should
anticipate absorbing much of any new CalSTRS funding requirement."

Lawmakers have advanced the notion of safeguarding extra revenue in a rainy day fund, including placing a measure on the 2014 ballot to fortify the state's fund.

Saying that proposed measure does not go far enough, the budget proposes an alternate constitutional amendment that would regulate the flow of money into and out of the state's budget reserve.

Deposits into the fund would be tied to revenue from capital gains, triggering when such revenue accounts for more than 6.5 percent of the General Fund. Brown and others have warned about becoming overly reliant volatile sources of income like capital gains, and the proposal notes that California's heavy use on taxes on the wealthy means revenue can "swing both up and down quickly."

Payments to schools under Proposition 98, the voter-approved constitutional amendment setting a minimum baseline of education spending, would be managed through a reserve that would absorb funding bumps to be used in down years.

The fund's maximum size would also double, from five to ten percent of the General Fund. Safeguarding against depleting the fund too quickly during future downturns, the amendment would allow at most half of the fund's balance to be spent in the first year of a recession.

Under the proposed amendment, California could fulfill its obligation to deposit money into the fund by allocating money to pay down the so-called Wall of Debt.

For schools, the plan proposes $61.6 billion toward the constitutional school-funding guarantee in 2014-15, up from $6.3 billion above the current budget year.

The plan also includes a $6.4 billion payoff of school deferrals. Those involuntary loans from school districts to the state forced districts to borrow billions of dollars with interest from private lenders or else absorb the cost from reserves or cutting programs.

With school-construction bonds from 2002, 2004 and 2006 all but exhausted, Brown wants to revisit what role, if any, the state should play in helping districts build new schools or modernize existing classrooms.

Any future school-construction programs, the plan reads, should "avoid an unsustainable reliance on state debt issuance that characterizes the current school facilities program."

The budget, though, taps $188 million from the general fund for emergency school repairs.

To help carry out the first year of the Brown-championed Local Control Funding Formula, the budget increases general fund money for schools by $4.5 billion in 2014-15.

In addition, the plan would allocate $26.3 billion for higher education and repeats calls for major changes in how the system operates.

Instead of focusing on enrollment targets that increase costs, the University of California, California State University and community college systems need to do a better job ensuring that students complete their degrees in a timely manner, according to the budget summary.

The budget includes a funding increase of $142.2 million apiece for the UC and CSU systems. The increases reflect the second year of a four-year pact with the administration that trades more money for the systems' holding tuition at existing levels and making changes meant to "improve student success and to realize institutional efficiencies."

State funding for community colleges, meanwhile, would increase 11.4 percent in 2014-15.

Editor's note: This post was updated at 5:20 p.m., 5:37 p.m. and 5:46 p.m. to include additional information about the budget. It was changed at 11:40 on Jan. 9 to clarify that the proposed increase in K-12 spending to nearly $70 billion would occur by the 2017-18 fiscal year.

Jim Miller, Jeremy White, Christopher Cadelago and Jon Ortiz of The Bee Capitol Bureau contributed to this report.


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