A robust economic recovery and surging revenue propelled by voter-approved tax increases have sent California’s general fund spending to a record high, marking a dramatic turn-around from the state’s days as the nation’s poster child of fiscal dysfunction.
Yet Gov. Jerry Brown, in releasing his budget proposal Thursday, pledged to take a somber approach in spending the windfall. He said California must begin paying down what he has called its massive “wall of debt,” a stew of unfunded liabilities, bond debt and borrowing that is estimated at $355 billion.
His somewhat cautious approach will run afoul of some of his fellow Democrats in the Legislature, many of whom already are clamoring for higher spending on pet programs.
“When you’re at this level of long-term liability, it isn’t time to just embark on a raft of new initiatives,” Brown said in announcing details of his budget during a Capitol news conference.