[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text width=”1/1″ el_position=”first last”]California Governor Jerry Brown was sworn-in for his unprecedented fourth term as California Governor last week and wasted no time laying out his priorities for 2015-16. The Governor introduced his spending plan for the upcoming fiscal year as well as provided his vision for the state moving forward during his inaugural address.  The Governor spotlighted infrastructure funding and expanded climate change policy as two of his big priorities.

For an executive Summary of the state’s Legislative Outlook for 2015-16 to include: Legislative leadership positions, committee assignments for Torrance Legislators, and current “watch bills,” click here.


California’s Transportation Crisis

Funding of the state’s transportation infrastructure has dwindled as the usage of fuel efficient vehicles by consumers continues to grow; reducing long-term fuel excise tax revenue, the primary funding source of California’s transportation infrastructure. The reduction in revenue, compounded with other contributing factors, has caused the state to accumulate an estimated $59 billion dollar need to upkeep and maintain its roads, bridges, and highways. Governor Brown referenced the dollar amount during his address and added, “Each year, we fall further and further behind and we must do something about it.”


The Next Phase of Climate Change Policy

California continues to be on the cutting edge of climate change policy as the state’s Cap-and-Trade program, AB 32, continues to be implemented concurrently with the state’s Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS) mandate requiring utility companies to derive a third of their electricity generation through renewable sources of energy. By 2020, California is on pace to reduce its Green House Gas (GHG) emissions to 1990 levels, stipulated by AB 32, as well as reach the state’s RPS standard.

Governor Brown has set his sights beyond the decade to further reduce GHG emissions. During his address he proposed three ambitious goals for the state to reach within the next fifteen years: increase the RPS mandate from 33% to 50%, further reduce petroleum usage in cars and trucks by up to 50%, and double the efficiency of existing buildings.


2015-16 Budget

The first step of a long process to approve the state’s annual budget took place as Governor Brown released his spending plan for 2015-16.Governor Brown advertises the budget as “precariously” pieced together and continues to promote fiscal discipline within the state. The budget calls for the spending of $113 billion. The University of California did not receive the increase in state funding the Board of Regents has been advocating for; however, the state’s K-12 system will receive a 39% budget increase. Efforts to develop the state’s workforce will be heavily subsidized through the allocation of $356 million of federal funding to local workforce investment boards to implement programs that seek to better prepare and fit workforce supply with demand. The state will also provide $151 million in tax credits during this fiscal year for businesses looking to grow jobs in the state. Budget highlights according to the Governor’s press release are outlined below:

Invests in water, flood protection and combating climate change. In addition to $532 million from the Proposition 1 water bond to continue implementing the administration’s five-year Water Action Plan for sustainable water management, the budget proposes spending the last $1.1 billion from the 2006 flood bond. It also proposes $1 billion in cap-and-trade expenditures for the state’s continuing investments in low-carbon transportation, sustainable communities, energy efficiency, urban forests and high-speed rail.

Implements rainy day fund and pays off debt. According to the Governor’s office, the state’s Rainy Day Fund will have a balance of $2.8 billion by the end of the year. The budget spends an additional $1.2 billion from Proposition 2 funds on paying off loans from special funds and past liabilities from Proposition 98; repays the remaining $1 billion in deferrals to schools and community colleges; makes the last payment on the $15 billion in Economic Recovery Bonds borrowed to cover budget deficits from as far back as 2002; and repays local governments $533 million in mandate reimbursements.

Increases K-12 school spending by $2,600 per student compared to 2011–12. Rising state revenues mean that the state can continue implementing the new Local Control Funding Formula ahead of schedule, the Governor’s office reports. When the formula was adopted in 2013–14, funding was expected to be $47 billion in the coming budget year; the 2015-16 budget proposal provides nearly $4 billion more—$50.7 billion.

Commits funding from Proposition 30 to hold tuition flat for college students. The $762 million in increased funding is provided contingent on tuition remaining flat.

Provides more than $1.2 billion in funding to expand workforce training—supporting a coordinated framework for adult education, career technical education, workforce investment and apprenticeships. These funds are intended to provide training and education to workers in California so they can develop the skills they need for self-sufficiency and greater personal advancement.

Provides Medi-Cal health care coverage to 12.2 million Californians. The Governor’s office said the expansion is due mainly to implementation of the federal health care reform act and that the program now covers 32% of the state’s population.

Prefunds retiree health care. The state’s unfunded liability for retiree health care benefits is estimated at $72 billion, with state health care benefits for retired employees remaining one of the fastest growing areas of the state budget. The Governor proposes that the state and its employees share equally in prefunding retiree health benefits, to be phased in as labor contracts come up for renewal.

For an executive Summary of the state’s Legislative Outlook for 2015-16 to include: Legislative leadership positions, committee assignments for Torrance Legislators, and current “watch bills,” click here.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_separator height_2=”25″ height=”25″ show_border=”yes_border”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/4″][vc_column_text]brandon-matson[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”3/4″][vc_column_text width=”1/1″ el_position=”first last”]posted by

Brandon Matson

Brandon is the Governmental Affairs Coordinator for the Torrance Area Chamber of Commerce. His primary responsibilities include facilitating the Chamber’s Governmental Affairs Policy (GAP) group, planning Chamber events with legislators, and facilitating the Chamber’s Political Action Committee (PAC). Feel free to contact him at any time.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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