San Diego legislators from both sides of the aisle found common ground last week in voting to pass a $125 billion state budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1.
The budget provides more money for schools, expands a tax credit for low-wage workers, saves the Middle Class Scholarship, increases the state’s reserve fund and imposes tighter oversight over the University of California’s central administration.
The spending plan negotiated by Gov. Jerry Brown and top lawmakers also divides up $1 billion in annual tobacco tax revenue, with half going to MediCal and half to higher reimbursements for doctors and dentists.
Republican Assemblyman Rocky Chavez, whose district covers north coastal San Diego County, said he voted for the budget because it provides specific benefits to his district.
“It would have been a bad faith vote to vote no on a collective budget that includes important asks for our district and California that I have been fighting tirelessly for,” he said. “Things such as our Veteran Resource Centers in community colleges, the Middle Class Scholarship, more support for mental health, and increased eligibility for childcare assistance for families.”
Though Democrats control both houses of the state Legislature, Chavez said the four things he mentioned “are Republican victories in this year’s budget, and they cannot be ignored.”
Assemblyman Todd Gloria, a Democrat who represents much of the City of San Diego, praised the budget as a “step in the right direction” for the state.
“The budget agreement put forth by the Legislature is prudent, responsible, protects California’s progress, and continues to make meaningful investments to strengthen our working and middle class,” he said. “The state’s responsible budgeting over the past decade has allowed us to still make progressive gains this year, even when revenue growth is less than expected.”
Democratic Sen. Toni Atkins, whose district stretches from Coronado to Solana Beach and covers much of San Diego, called the budget “prudent and progressive” and she was proud to support it.
“It continues to bolster our rainy-day reserves, further invests in education, increases childcare funding and preserves the Middle Class Scholarship,” Atkins said. “It shores up funding for Planned Parenthood, doctors and other medical providers to increase access to healthcare for our residents.”
“I am especially gratified to see the expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit that I fought so hard to create as Speaker of the Assembly,” she added.
Senate Republican Leader Patricia Bates, who represents north coastal San Diego County, said the budget as passed is an improvement over initial versions.
“This budget is an improvement compared to what was delivered to us earlier this year. But it must be noted that Sacramento Democrats just passed a budget that is the biggest in the state’s history,” she said.