After years of difficult cuts, the Legislature has approved an on-time, balanced budget that is fiscally sound and supports essential programs. It ensures a reserve of $1.1 billion, and it is structurally balanced throughout the entire forecast period. The budget also pays down $4.2 billion in budget debt, and importantly, this includes over $2.1 billion in deferrals to our schools.
I’m particularly pleased by the actions we took to reinvest in education.
The budget provides billions in new investments for schools, including a new funding formula to target resources to those in most need.
The final agreement on the funding formula ensures all schools benefit from the increased revenues and economic recovery, providing higher base grants and ensuring every school district has funding restored to at least their pre-recession levels.
All low-income and English learner students throughout the state will benefit, not just those in high concentration areas, by targeting funds to all qualified students and ensuring districts direct the funds toward these students with accountability measures.
Funding for early care and preschool will increase full day care by 3,300 slots and part-day preschool will be at 8,100 slots. As for higher education, we also secured a Middle Class Scholarship for the 2014-15 school year, reducing student fees by up to 40 percent for families making under $100,000 and up to 10 percent for families earning $150,000.
There are also several significant local victories to report, such as the inclusion of funding for UCR Medical School ($15 million), for the Salton Sea funding feasibility study ($2 million) and Financial Assistance Program grants ($3 million), as well as actions to support public safety, such as for probation department funding for crime reduction ($107 million) and to support background checks associated with new firearm purchases ($3.2 million), along with actions to maintain public access to justice through our courts.
I am pleased that the budget we have adopted builds on the fiscal stability we have achieved through years of restraint and that it reflects our commitment to fiscal responsibility, strengthening the middle class, educational opportunity, and making government services more effective.