Governor Brown Says Budget Proposal Prudent

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SACRAMENTO-

Governor Jerry Brown has proposed a record $113 billion budget for the State of California, thanks to increased revenues from a recovering economy.

"We have a carefully balanced budget, more precarious than I'd like, but it is balanced," Brown said.

The bulk of expenditures in the budget is for education which will get $8 billion more than last year. Money would be spent to pay down borrowing to balance past budgets as well as increasing the state's emergency reserve fund approved by voters. With the addition of $1.2 billion to the fund, it will rise to $2.8 billion by the end of the fiscal year.

Brown said history has shown that the economy is fickle and further spending should be shunned.

"It will take self discipline and real prudence," Brown said.

Republicans were pleased with the governor's emphasis on restraint.

"It's delightful to have the governor on our side as far as profligate spending," Republican Senator Jim Nielsen, who has butted heads with the governor on many budgets, said Friday.

Assembly budget committee member Melissa Melendez, a Republican from Murrieta, said the people want the state to have common sense budgets.

"They want us to behave more like the average household and that means be responsible when you're spending, save some money in case something goes terribly wrong," said Melendez.

Republicans, however, say there will be the temptation to increase spending and say there are plenty of places in the budget where spending can be reduced further.

Those representing the poor, elderly and disabled were disappointed that the governor didn't restore funding to social services that was cut drastically during the recession.

"I kind of expected a lot better from the governor," disabled advocate Diana Madoshi said from her wheelchair at the Capitol building.

She said years of budget cuts have seniors and the disabled scrambling to survive.

"We've had to rely on food banks, churches and other charities," said Madoshi.

The governor said he sympathizes with the poor but said California has a better safety net than most other states and that a third of his budget benefits low income Californians in some way.

That includes providing health care to 4 million additional Californians as the result of expanded Medi-Cal coverage as the result of Obama care.

"That's real money going to real people and these are not people who are real rich...it is decent and and it's going to improve the quality of their lives," said Brown.

But Anthony Wright of Health Access says California's provider reimbursement rates are too low to allow patients to have adequate care and that most of the health care money comes from the federal government.

"We have to not just break down the wall of debt, but also the wall of poverty," said Wright.