Brown: Calif. to impose another $1B in budget cuts

Brown: Calif. to impose another $1B in budget cuts »Play Video
Students work together in Elk Grove, Calif., in this Thursday, Nov. 17, 2011, file photo. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Gov. Jerry Brown said Tuesday that California needs to make about $1 billion in midyear cuts to schools and social services, as the state's revenues fell about $2.2 billion below the rosy assumptions included in the budget he signed last summer.

The cuts Brown announced Tuesday are lower than previous estimates by the state's legislative analyst, which will allow the state to avoid deeper cuts to public schools that could have meant reducing the school year by up to seven days.

Still, the lower revenue will trigger automatic midyear reductions to public schools, universities and colleges, Medi-Cal, and in-home support for seniors and the disabled, to take effect Jan. 1.

See a breakdown of the funding cuts >>

Brown and Democrats in the Legislature had hoped for a $4 billion increase in tax revenue through the current fiscal year, which ends June 30. The budget they passed last summer without Republican support was based on a combination of spending cuts, fee hikes and overly optimistic revenue projections.

The Democratic governor said that following through on the cuts is a sign of California's improving fiscal health.

"California has very sound finances. We're on the road to recovery. And the trigger cuts, which are pulled today, are part of that fiscal discipline," he said in a news conference at the state Capitol.

"This is not the way we'd like to run California. But we have to live within our means," he said.

Brown also warned of further cuts when he releases his proposed 2012-13 budget in January, but he declined to say how deep they would be.

The budget passed by Democrats and signed by Brown included automatic midyear spending reductions — known as "trigger cuts" — if revenue projections don't pan out. Brown has said the move was necessary to prevent the state's credit rating from deteriorating further.

The cuts include up to $100 million each to the University of California, California State University, developmental services and in-home support for seniors and the disabled. Community college fees would increase $10 per unit, and reductions would be made for child care assistance, library grants and prisons, among other programs.

California currently faces a $3 billion shortfall and is expected to face a $10 billion deficit for 2012-13, resulting in a $13 billion gap over the next 18 months.

California's general fund, its main checkbook for paying most state expenses, has dropped from $103 billion at the start of the recession in 2007 to $86 billion this year, a decline of more than 16 percent. Lawmakers have been making billions of dollars in cuts each year to cope with plunging tax revenue.

After GOP lawmakers opposed Brown's proposal to place a question on taxes before voters, he has introduced his own tax initiative he hopes to bring before voters next November.

Brown said he wants to temporarily increase taxes on the rich, starting with individuals making more than $250,000, and raise the statewide sales tax by half a cent, to 7.75 percent. The proposal would raise about $7 billion a year for five years.

Republicans accused the governor of using the mid-year cuts to his advantage as he pushes his tax proposal.

"Any cuts to education now are only because the governor is using the cuts for political reasons and represents a total failure of Brown to reform government at any level," state Republican Party Chairman Tom Del Beccaro said in a statement released before the specific cuts were announced.

Democratic Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, of Sacramento, said the cuts will add urgency to Brown's proposal and others being floated by labor unions to raise tax revenue.

"The people of California have had enough of cuts," he said.

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Here is a look at the so-called trigger cuts:

— $100 million to the University of California.

— $100 million to California State University.

— $100 million to the Department of Developmental Services, and $200 million starting July 1, 2012.

— $100 million for In-Home Supportive Services; also imposes a 20 percent reduction in service hours.

— $72.1 million to juvenile justice; increase county charge for youth offenders sent to the adult prison system.

— $30 million by increasing community college fees by $10 per unit starting May 1, 2012.

— $23 million by cutting 7,500 child care assistance slots.

— $20 million to the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

— $15.9 million in state grants for local libraries.

— $8.6 million in Medi-Cal savings; extends a cut to providers in all managed care plans.

— $14.6 million by eliminating grants to district attorney's offices for a trend referred to as "vertical prosecution."

— $10 million by eliminating IHSS anti-fraud efforts.

Because revenue fell short by more than $2 billion, the following cuts will be made to public schools:

— $248 million by eliminating home-to-school transportation.

— $79.6 million to school districts, county offices of education and charter schools.

— $102 million to community colleges.

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Source: California Department of Finance.