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Assembly approves $108B state budget
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SACRAMENTO  (AP) — Moving swiftly to beat a midnight deadline, the state Assembly on Sunday approved the main bill for California’s $108 billion general fund spending plan for the coming fiscal year.

The legislation, SB852, passed 55-24 and heads to the Senate, where it is expected to gain support from majority Democrats.

The unusual Father’s Day legislative session came on the last day the Legislature had to meet its June 15 constitutional deadline to send a balanced budget to Gov. Jerry Brown. The governor and Democratic legislative leaders had agreed to the key details for the budget late last week.

The final plan for the fiscal year starting July 1 meets Brown’s demands for a rainy day fund and paying down debt while allocating some of the surplus to programs benefiting lower-income Californians.

Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, noted some of the additional spending that was a priority for Democratic lawmakers, including preschool for low-income 4-year-olds and money to improve the availability and quality of child care.

She said libraries, art programs and student financial aid were among the many state-supported programs that will see more money in the coming fiscal year.

“The investments in this budget are the most significant in years,” she said, while also noting the money dedicated to start paying down the hundreds of billions of dollars in state debts and liabilities. She said that part of the budget will “put California on strong fiscal footing.”

Republican lawmakers praised the budget plan for including the governor’s more conservative revenue projections but said it still contains increased spending that will be unsustainable once temporary tax increases expire in a few years.

Assemblyman Jeff Gorell, R-Camarillo, called it a mixed bag.

He praised Democrats for accepting Brown’s revenue projections for next year, rather than taking a rosier scenario presented by the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office, and for reaching a bipartisan compromise on a rainy day fund that will go before voters in November.

But he said the budget will include $700 million less in debt payments than the governor had originally sought.

Gorell also said it fails to live up to the promises of Proposition 30, Brown’s sales and income tax increase approved by voters in 2012, because it does not provide enough money for public education or the four-year university systems.