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Legislative Wrap-Up: East Bay Leaders React To California Budget Plan

Assembly members and senators praise the governor's budget proposal for increasing spending for education and other programs while also reducing the state's debt

The state Capitol in Sacramento
The state Capitol in Sacramento
Legislators in the East Bay praised the 2014-15 state budget released Thursday by Gov. Jerry Brown.

The $155 billion budget proposal increases general fund spending by 8 percent with additional funding schools as well as maintenance for parks, roads and other public facilities.

It also calls for using $11 billion to pay off part of the state's debt and stashing $1.6 billion in a reserve fund.

There are extra funds this year because of increases in tax revenues as California's economy recovers.

The state Legislature has until June 15 to adopt a version of the budget. The spending plan takes effect July 1.

Here is the reaction from some East Bay legislators.

Assemblyman Rob Bonta (D-Oakland): "The proposed budget importantly reflects the state’s continued goals of fiscal responsibility, strengthening the middle class, and delivering effective, efficient services for all areas throughout California."

Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan (D-Alamo): "The governor’s budget confirms that California’s economy is on the path to recovery with revenues increasing and our unemployment rate decreasing.  His budget recognizes that to ensure our state’s fiscal health over time, we must manage our money wisely, pay down our wall of debt and prioritize programs and services that build a strong economy and safe communities."

Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla (D-Concord): "The Governor is reinvesting in education by closing the gap on remaining deferrals to K-12 schools, boosting Prop. 98 funding by $10 billion and continuing to implement the Local Control Funding Formula to provide school districts with a higher level of base funding while also providing additional resources for low income students, English language learners and foster youth. One thing we’ve learned over the past several years is how volatile our state economy can be with alternating boom and bust cycles. That’s why it’s critically important to continue to save in years when revenues are high in order to ride out the lean years and avoid cuts to education and social services in the future.”

Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley): "For the last few years we’ve been digging California out of a hole, while our schools, infrastructure and social services suffered. Thankfully, today we have healthy revenue forecasts and a plan to capture revenue spikes to protect against future downturns. With what the Governor proposed today, along with priorities articulated in the Assembly’s Budget Blueprint, we could wind up with the best budget California’s had in years. One that’s not only good for this upcoming year but also the future."

Assemblyman Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont): "I support the increased investment to our schools and universities and paying down the deferrals that have accumulating from previous economic slowdowns.  This is a responsible approach that supports our students who have seen tuition increases and course cutbacks that have not only hurt their ability to graduate on time, but have also adversely affected out state’s workforce.  Educating a 21st-century workforce is vital to our long-term economic growth."

Sen. Ellen Corbett (D-San Leandro): “I believe that East Bay communities will be well served by this forward-looking budget that further strengthens California’s strong education system, including K-12, community colleges, California State University and the University of California... This fiscally responsible plan addresses California’s short and long term needs, while also making critical investments so that residents, businesses and communities grow and flourish in the months and years ahead."

Sen. Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord): “Governor Brown’s proposed budget is a responsible, prudent plan for California. His proposal wisely uses our surplus to tackle our debt, reinvest in education, and save money for the future. Billions in additional funds for K-12 public education — as well as increased funding for our public university systems — will help working families now and pay dividends for years to come."

Sen. Lois Wolk (D-Davis): “This is a budget for a recovering economy. The Governor’s budget pays off more than $11 billion in debt and builds the state’s reserve while reinvesting in public schools and the courts, both of which have experienced significant budget cuts in recent years. This budget strengthens the safety net for the state’s neediest and most vulnerable residents with proposals including a three year pilot child-care program for low income parents seeking employment. The governor’s budget also begins to address the state’s drought and groundwater issues."

In other actions, a ceremony was held Wednesday in Washington to honor the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon Johnson's declaration to begin a war on poverty.

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) joined President Johnson's daughter, Lynda Johnson Robb, in the Capitol to mark the anniversary.

Rep. Mike Honda (D-San Jose) also spoke at The Capitol on the anniversary.

“We often talk about poverty in terms of numbers, or of trends, or of dollars and cents,” said Honda. “But poverty is personal. It is one person, or one family, struggling to pay their bills, feed their families, or provide an education for their children.”

A bill that contained an amendment by Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Dublin) was signed into law.

The provision in the National Defense Authorization Act will allow military bands to once again play at community events such as the Scottish Games in Pleasanton.

A bureaucratic problem at the Department of Defense had prevented military bands from performing even when event sponsors paid for the cost.

“I am glad this issue is resolved and military bands can play again at community events. The provision represents a common sense solution to a needless, bureaucratic problem,” said Swalwell.

State Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett introduced legislation that would form a California-based research program to study the human brain.

Senate Bill 836 would complement the federal Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (“BRAIN”) Initiative.

The research will map the activity of every neuron in the brain. It's hoped the research will lead to treatment and cures for diseases such as Alzheimer's.

"SB 836 will ensure that California is well positioned to reap the tremendous rewards in both economic opportunity and potentially life-changing advancements for human health resulting from the BRAIN Initiative,” Corbett said. “California is a global leader in scientific innovation. It is only natural for the state to harness that leadership to advance the BRAIN Initiative."

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