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The Golden State’s finances are far more golden than when Jerry Brown found them seven and a half years ago.
Outside a state office building in downtown Los Angeles on Wednesday, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed his final state budget, a nearly $140 billion plan that “fills the Rainy Day Fund to the brim and sends record funding to California’s classrooms,” according to an announcement from the governor’s office, which notes that the budget fully fills the state’s reserves to “an unprecedented” $13.8 billion.
“When I took office back in 2011 with the state facing a $27 billion deficit, I pledged to work with the Legislature to fix California’s financial mess,” Brown, a Democrat, said in the announcement. “Today, the final budget I sign delivers on that pledge and prepares us for the future.”
As in previous years, K-12 schools and healthcare for low-income Californians comprise two of the largest spending categories. Schools will receive $78.4 billion in funds, an average of $11,640 per student, a substantial increase from the waning days of the recession in 2011. That includes money to fully fund Brown’s 2013 program to send more financial assistance to schools serving English learners and low-income communities. New education programs in the budget include $50 million for school employee training and $15 million to help fund after-school programs for kids to learn computer coding.
The 2018-19 budget also includes $5 billion to help address affordable housing and homelessness, including $500 million in assistance for local governments on the front lines of helping homeless Californians.
“I’m especially glad we were able to partner with cities and counties to help them address the homeless crisis with unprecedented funding for more shelters and services,” Assembly member Phil Ting, a San Francisco Democrat who chairs the Assembly’s Budget Committee, said in the announcement.
Michael Grass is Executive Editor of Government Executive’s Route Fifty and is based in Seattle.