California Gov. Jerry Brown signed his final state budget in downtown Los Angeles Wednesday, calling the $139 billion spending plan a milestone that represents the state’s ability to work together.
“When I took office way back in 2011, California was facing a real financial mess, a deficit of $27 billion, and I pledged to work with the Legislature to get it solved,” Brown said at the signing ceremony, held at the Ronald Reagan State Building. “Well, this budget that I signed today fulfills that pledge and prepares us for the future.”
“And I want to say something else,” Brown continued. “In our country today, with very bitter divisions … this is a budget that represents a collective effort of the people of California. This is the way we together — 40 million people — invest in our collective future, our roads, for child care, our higher education, for our schools, health care, all sorts of things, and I think people ought to be proud of that.
” …We are a very large and wealthy state. We need to do things and we can do things, and that’s what this budget does… Does it solve all the problems? No. Are there people suffering? Yes there are people suffering. but there’s no place that has a more progressive, thoughtful, sensitive understanding of how to cope with modern problems.”
Brown was joined by Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon and budget chairs Senator Holly J. Mitchell and Assemblymember Phil Ting.
Among the budget’s highlights:
— Fully funds the state’s “rainy-day” surplus fund, which is now at an unprecedented $13.8 billion.
— Increases school funding by more than $4,600 per student over 2011-12 levels.
— Invests $5 billion to help address challenges with affordable housing and homelessness, including providing $500 million to assist local governments in their immediate efforts to help homeless Californians.
— Provides $4.6 billion in new transportation funding in 2018-19 to repair neighborhood roads, state highways and bridges, fill potholes, ease congestion in busy trade and commute corridors and improve and modernize passenger rail and public transit.
— Increases funding for university and community colleges systems with no tuition or fee hikes and establishes the state’s first online community college.
— Provides $79 million to support immigrants through a number of legal services programs, including deportation defense, naturalization services and DACA assistance.
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