First Look: The 2015-16 State Budget

The California Budget & Policy Center this morning published our “first look” analysis of the 2015-16 state budget that Governor Brown signed on June 24. The executive summary is provided in this post, and the full analysis is available here. Stay tuned for additional analysis and commentary.


2015-16 Budget Creates a State EITC While Investing in Education, Health Coverage, and Child Care and Preschool, but Leaves Some Key Supports Diminished

First Look The 2015-16 State Budget First Page 06.29.2015On June 24, Governor Jerry Brown signed the 2015-16 state budget package. This budget calls for $115 billion in spending from the General Fund for the fiscal year beginning July 1 and makes several significant advances. It creates California’s first-ever state Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) as an “add on” to the successful federal EITC. The budget also expands comprehensive public health care coverage to undocumented immigrant children from low-income families.

The 2015-16 budget package also allocates billions of dollars as required by voter-approved ballot measures. The budget includes $68.4 billion for K-12 schools, community colleges, and the state preschool program as part of the minimum funding guarantee under Proposition 98 of 1988, a significant increase from the post-recession low point of $47.3 billion in 2011-12. Under Proposition 2, the rainy day fund measure approved by voters in 2014, the new state budget sets aside $3.7 billion in 2015-16 for paying down budgetary debt and building the state’s reserve.

Other advances include funding for more than 16,000 additional subsidized child care and preschool slots; a boost in spending for adult education and career technical education; greater support for services for children in the child welfare system; and the creation of a debt amnesty program for people with overdue court-ordered fines. The 2015-16 budget package also holds tuition levels flat at CSU and UC, while providing both with modest funding increases. The advances reflected in the 2015-16 state budget add to those made in recent years, including new revenues provided by Proposition 30’s temporary tax increases and the expansion of Medi-Cal as part of federal health care reform.

At the same time, however, the state’s economic gains remain uneven, and the budget package leaves much undone in rebuilding critical safety net services battered by cuts during and after the Great Recession. The budget fails to significantly strengthen the state’s welfare-to-work program, maintains cash assistance for low-income seniors and people with disabilities at recession-era lows, and leaves in place previous cuts to Medi-Cal payment rates and benefits. Despite its advances, the 2015-16 budget lacks a strategy for reinvesting in vital supports for millions of Californians not sharing in the state’s prosperity.

View the full report.