A rainy day in California brings solemn news from Governor Jerry Brown’s office: budget compromise. Brown is walking away from his stalled plan to put tax extensions to the voters in a special election this fall. Instead, Brown will, with the legislature’s Democrats, put forth a budget that assumes the state will take in $4 billion more than it did last year (which is possible). If the state doesn’t take in enough revenue, massive cuts would go into effect, including a possible $20 million cut to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
The other large compromise in the new unified Democratic budget is on realignment, the governor’s year-long attempt to transfer programs to the local level (mostly counties), along with money to fund them. That’s where the bulk of his tax extensions — sales and vehicle taxes — would have gone. But without GOP support, Brown had to either cancel the reform proposal or find another way; he chose the latter. The proposal now calls for fully transferring those programs, but using existing revenues — a complicated local/state sales tax change and a portion of existing vehicle license fees — to fund it. That appears to be designed as a temporary fix, with Brown’s advisers saying the constitutional changes (and revenues) are now targeted for the November 2012 ballot.
That 2012 constitutional change would potentially guarantee money to counties to help house their new population of prisoners in years to come. Counties are likely to be a bit skittish about this new budget deal–because the 30,000 or so prison inmates, per AB 109, are still slated to come home. The funds to house them, however, seem to be becoming less certain.