SacBee: With revenue rising, Democrats push to restore safety net cuts

Randall Benton / Gov. Jerry Brown walks through the Capitol to a news conference Thursday where he unveiled his proposed state budget for the year that begins July 1. Read more here:
Published: Monday, May. 6, 2013 – 12:00 am | Page 1A
Last Modified: Monday, May. 6, 2013 – 7:56 am

Gov. Jerry Brown and Democratic lawmakers are on a collision course over restoring cuts to California’s safety net, marking a key test of vows to hold the line on state spending.

Brown is set to release a revised budget proposal this month, and state revenue is running about $4.5 billion over projections, lending momentum to efforts to boost programs for the poor or needy.

Legislation and ideas abound at the Capitol for bolstering the safety net, targeting adult dental care, mental health, welfare assistance, child care, college aid and affordable housing.

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg touts restoring Medi-Cal dental benefits and boostingmental health programs as two personal priorities.

“There is no shame, in fact there’s pride, in fighting to restore cuts to those who have suffered the most during the budget crisis – the poor, the elderly and the disabled,” Steinberg said.

“But we can only restore programs if there is money,” he added. “And we don’t know whether or not there will be new money.”

State finance department spokesman H.D. Palmer, representing the Brown administration, said the governor’s basic tenet has been that past cuts must be retained to help pay down debt and ensure future budget stability.

The notion of a $4.5 billion windfall is illusory because much of it may not be available for more than one year and, besides, the vast majority of it must go to public schools and community colleges under Proposition 98, Palmer said.

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