California lawmakers approve budget to
fund rail, preschool
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[June 16, 2014]
By Jennifer Chausee
SACRAMENTO Calif. (Reuters) - California
lawmakers approved a $156.4 billion budget on Sunday, sending the plan
that includes funding for a controversial high-speed rail project and
preschool education for low-income children to Democratic Governor Jerry
Brown to be signed.
The state Senate voted 25-11 two hours after the Assembly approved
the spending plan, a compromise deal that sets aside money for a
so-called rainy day fund in line with Brown's vision of fiscal
"This budget is not perfect, but after a very dark time, we are
stepping out into the light," said Senator Mark Leno during floor
The vote followed months of political wrangling among Democrats
seeking to restore spending on social programs cut during the
A budget deal was reached on Friday and the vote came ahead of a
deadline of midnight on Sunday to pass it.
The budget must be signed into law by Brown, who last year used his
line-item veto to kill some measures. On Friday, he praised the
legislature for "a solid and sustainable budget" barely bigger than
the $156.2 billion he had proposed in May.
California faces the upcoming fiscal year, which begins July 1, in
good financial shape, thanks to new taxes approved by voters and the
resurgent economy. When Brown took over in 2011 after serving two
terms from 1975 to 1983, the state faced an 18-month budget gap of
Brown's high-speed rail project, a $68 billion effort opposed by
Republicans, will receive $250 million in funding from the state's
cap-and-trade program. The state collects a fee after polluters buy
and sell their rights to emit carbon into the air.
The budget lawmakers included a requirement that $1 billion of
educational funds be used for specific purposes, while limiting the
dollar amount schools are allowed to keep in their coffers.
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As part of a compromise with Brown, lawmakers negotiated additional
commitments for cap-and-trade funds, including money for affordable
housing, mass transit and clean energy projects.
Other compromises included an expansion of public pre-kindergarten
for four-year-olds from low income families - a priority of Senate
President pro-tem Darrell Steinberg, a Democrat who represents
They include implementing national Common Core curriculum standards,
vocational education, and assistance for school districts with a
high percentage of disadvantaged students, said Assembly member
Nancy Skinner, a Berkeley Democrat.
(Editing by Sharon Bernstein, Ian Simpson, Sandra Maler, Joseph
Radford and Eric Meijer)
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