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SACRAMENTO – The Conference Committee on the 2015-16 State Budget (AB 93) has completed its work and crafted an on-time, responsible budget that makes targeted new investments to improve California.

The budget approved by Conference Committee reflects Assembly Democrats’ priorities, including reducing poverty, restoring funding for schools and early childhood education, improving higher education funding, improving health care and building reserves, and paying down debt.

The Conference Version of the Budget includes approximately $117.5 billion in General Fund spending and total reserves of $5.7 billion. This includes $1.5 billion in the Regular Reserve and $4.2 billion in the Rainy Day Fund.

Key highlights of the Conference version of the budget are:

Building Reserves and Paying Down Debts:

·         $5.7 billion in total reserves, including:
o   $4.2 billion in the Prop 2 Rainy Day Fund.
o   $1.5 billion in the regular Budget Reserve.

·         Repays $2.6 billion in Wall of Debt and other debt payments in accordance with Proposition 2.

The Conference budget puts $760 million more than the Governor proposed into the state’s Rainy Day Fund and pays down another $760 million in debt.

Investing in Schools and Early Education:

·         Increases Prop 98 funding for 2015-16 by $8.2 billion more than was provided in 2014-15 budget.

·         Expands Early Education funding by an ongoing amount of $577 million. In the budget year, the total cost will be $409 million, this includes:
o   $148 million for Preschool and quality rating activities within Proposition 98.
o   $261 million for Child care and Preschool programs outside of Prop 98.

The Legislature’s budget agreement adds another $700 million over what the Governor proposed for schools.

Increasing CCC, CSU, UC, and Financial Aid funding:

·         Increases funding for the CSU by $107 million, an increase of $70 million over the May Revision. This increase will grow to about $150 million over the next few years, allowing CSU to increase enrollment and speed graduation times.

·         Provides $25 million increase for the UC, but makes the funds contingent upon UC increasing enrollment of California students by 5,000 over the next two years, capping enrollments of out of state students and only using state financial aid for in state students.

·         Increases the Cal Grant B stipend by $150, increases the number of Competitive Cal Grants awards by 16,000, eliminates the planned cut to Cal Grants for non-profit colleges, and funds the Middle Class Scholarship to cut tuition by 20% for CSU and UC students in the 2015-16 year.

·         Provides major increase for Community Colleges including a $38 million Cal Grant B increase for Community College Students.

Reducing Poverty:

·         Establishes a state Earned Income Tax Credit that will benefit over two million Californians and lift approximately 50,000 out of poverty and another 50,000 out of deep poverty.

·         Eliminates the Maximum Family Grant rule; the ill-conceived rule that harms families and their chances of returning to work and getting out of poverty.

·         Increases grants for SSI individual recipients by $10 per month and restores the annual SSI and CalWORKs COLA effective 2019-20.

Improving Health Care:

·         Restores 5% of the AB 97 Medi-Cal rates cut for Dental care immediately and the rest of Medi-Cal services on April 1, 2016.

·         Funds Medi-Cal services for children regardless of immigration status.

·         Restores Optional Medi-Cal benefits.

·         Increases Developmental Disability Services rates by 5% for targeted services and 2.5% for all other services.

The Conference version of the budget also provides funding for Veterans Services, Seismic Safety Improvements, Arts Council Funding, Local Public Safety and more.

The deadline for the Legislature to pass a budget for the coming fiscal year is Monday, June 15, 2015.

Website of the Assembly Democratic Caucus: www.asmdc.org