Over the weekend, Assemblyman Das Williams, D-Santa Barbara, voted to support a balanced, timely budget to pay down up to $12.4 billion in debt and grow budget reserves by more than $5 billion by 2017-18, while making great investments in education.
“Over the last seven years, we had to make exceptionally difficult cuts and Californians had to live with dire consequences," Williams said. "Now that our economy is on a path to recovery, I want to make sure we spend and save in a responsible manner I want to make sure we avoid putting California back in such dismal circumstances.”
For the first time in almost a decade, the state budget makes greater investments in education, including the expansion of access to early learning and higher education. Preschool funding will increase by $155 million. K-12 education will increase by $5.6 billion for 2014-15, which is an increase from the $4.7 billion proposed by the governor. UC and CSU funding will increase by $302 million, and community Colleges will receive an additional $300 million.
“Investing in education is one of the most important actions we took today,” Williams said. “We survived the Great Recession on the backs of our students, and it is extremely appropriate we reinvest in our children and our future.’”
The budget takes a responsible approach to allocating Cap and Trade funds, using these funds not just for high speed rail, but for affordable housing, transit and sustainable communities as well.
Environmental commitments include $142 million to help respond to the drought, by expanding oil spill protections to inland communities, and by providing $40 million to perform deferred maintenance at state parks. Other highlights in the budget includes a $100 million increase to help fund child care for working families, increased funding and outreach for California veterans, $100 million investment into affordable housing, and increased funds for local police and sheriffs with $100 million for efforts to reduce recidivism.
— Jeannette Sanchez-Palacios is the district director for Assemblyman Das Williams.