Los Angeles

Gov. Brown, Democratic Leaders Agree on $122.2B State Budget Plan

SACRAMENTO - Gov. Jerry Brown and Democratic legislative leaders reached an agreement Thursday on a state budget that expands funding for subsidized child care and eliminates a controversial welfare policy that restricts cash assistance for nearly 130,000 children.

The deal also includes $400 million for housing construction to help people with low income struggling with rapidly rising rent. But it's contingent on lawmakers approving a contentious proposal by Brown to speed up development in some neighborhoods, and most of the details remain unresolved.

A legislative budget panel scheduled a Thursday evening meeting to approve the spending plan, setting up votes in the full Assembly and Senate next week.

A spokesman for Brown, Evan Westrup, confirmed the budget committee was acting on an agreement between the Democratic governor, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon and Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon, both Democrats from Los Angeles.

The budget agreement largely conforms to the $122.2 billion spending plan Brown released last month that reflected his general preference for savings over expanding state services, which he says would only have to be cut in the next recession.

"What you don't spend today, you're minimizing the pain later, and I think it makes sense," Brown said in May.

However, he gave in the desire by Democratic lawmakers to eliminate a condition in CalWorks that prevents families from getting additional welfare benefits if they have another child while receiving state assistance. It was intended to prevent children from being born into extreme poverty, but critics say it's harmful to children and based on racist stereotypes about welfare recipients.

He also agreed to increase funding for state-funded child care, adding about 3,000 new children to the program in each of the next three years and increasing wages for day care providers as the state minimum wage rises.

Funding for the social programs sought by liberal Democrats came from savings in the health care tax agreement reached earlier this year and changing the funding mechanism to pay for jail facilities.

Legislative leaders agreed to Brown's demand to save $2 billion more than required, boosting the state's main reserve fund $6.7 billion in case of a recession.

Lawmakers must approve a 2016-17 spending plan by Wednesday or forfeit their pay.

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