This week legislators passed budget bills approving most of Governor Brown’s proposed budget cuts, slashing California’s $26.6 billion deficit nearly in half. Despite many protests, rallies, and press conferences over the past few weeks, lawmakers approved hard hitting cuts to colleges, low-income families and disabled residents.
In order to slice the budget deficit, California colleges lost $1 billion in funding, community colleges increased per unit fees, and some State Parks will close. Additionally, vital funding to welfare, medical programs for the poor and in-home care for the elderly and frail, has all been cut.
However, two of the most controversial pieces of Brown’s budget have still been left unanswered by the Legislature – the elimination of redevelopment agencies and the ballot measure to extend higher taxes. If approved, they could free up as much as $13 billion in the state budget. The vote to eliminate redevelopment agencies, which Governor Brown considers to be one of the pillars to reducing the deficit, fell short in the Assembly by one vote on Wednesday. Negotiations are ongoing to secure votes to support a ballot measure that would ask voters to extend billions of dollars in temporary tax increases. If these two pieces of the budget pass, the extra revenue could be diverted to schools, local governments and used as a tool to balance the budget.