Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr. signed a balanced budget last Thursday for fiscal year 2013-14 in time to begin July 1.

The budget totaled $96.3 billion, including a $1 billion reserve. For the second consecutive year, the budget projects a slight surplus. This is the largest since the $100 billion budgets of 2006-07 and 2007-08.

Major initiatives addressed in this year’s funding include changes in allocating the state’s school funding mechanisms, initial implementation of the federal Affordable Care Act and reducing the state’s recent debt accumulation.

This budget also reduces the state’s debt by $4.7 billion. The governor’s staff project the remaining $27 billion can be reduced 80 percent in four years.

Proposition 30, enacted November 2012, increases funding for school districts, but the governor proposed and the legislature enacted a new formula for distributing the funds.

Many local districts, including Hemet, will receive more money over the next several years because of an emphasis on helping districts with high concentrations of English learners and low-income students.

Over the next five years, funding per student should increase more than a third, from $7,175 to $10,010.

All school districts, county offices of education, and charter schools will be required to develop and adopt local control and accountability plans to identify local goals in areas that are priorities for the state, including pupil achievement, parent engagement and school climate.

Health care
Implementing ACA in California results in newly eligible individuals receiving comprehensive MediCal benefits. Long-term care services will be covered, provided the federal government approves keeping the asset (income) test for these services.

Also, new and currently eligible individuals will have access to expanded mental health and substance use disorder services.

And, due to the optional MediCal coverage expansion, the state will now pay for emergency MediCal services for low-income adults and parent/caretaker relatives with incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level who are undocumented.
The budget also makes changes to programs that serve newly qualified immigrants who do not have children enrolled in MediCal.

Cal Fire
The legislature approved a Cal Fire budget of $1.3 billion, $138 million more than the governor’s January proposal.

“Over the last few years, we took nearly $80 million in cuts as the entire state tightened belts in order to right the budget,” said Janet Upton, Cal Fire deputy director of communications. “This year, we as a state are getting back on track with a budget ... with a dedicated funding source for vital fire prevention efforts.”

Other major highlights of the Cal Fire budget include $11.2 million for fuel treatment, defensible space inspections, and fire severity and planning, and another $51 million for emergency fire suppression efforts.

The State Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation received $15.4 million to keep all 39 male inmate fire camps staffed.