Governor Jerry Brown is promising to spend more on schools with the new budget proposal he released today.
Governor Brown says his budget proposal is full of good news for the coming fiscal year, and he's calling for an 8.5 percent increase in general fund spending coupled with a dedication to pay down the state's debt by more than $11 billion. He also wants to pay back state schools.
"We're putting $10 billion into the schools of California, after years of droughts, and cutbacks and pink slips for the teachers," Brown said.
Educators are calling the governor's budget a "step in the rigth direction."
Josephine Lucey is the President of the California School Board Association and says the state's schools are still underfunded, but they're seeing a turn-around.
"Some districts are back to where they were, some are not," she said.
Schools and community colleges are set to recieve $10 billion more, with an increase in per-pupil spending by $850 over last year. Brown proposes another $1 billion increase for the CSU and UC Systems -- if they keep tuition steady.
Brown is also promising to chip into what he calls California's massive "wall of debt."
The governor said soaring revenue from an improving economy and voter-approved tax increases have put the state in the rare position of having a projected multibillion-dollar budget surplus.
"Schools, healthcare, public safety. The three vital elements that a government owes its people, this budget reflects in a very strong way.
The governor says that includes $6 billion in payments that had been deferred to schools, money to help the state meet a federal mandate to reduce the prison population, and funding of health care primarily for millions of California families.
Republican Assemblymember Kristen Olsen praises the paying down of debt and the prioritizing of education.
"However he uses only a fraction of the surplus to build a reserve," she said.
Democratic leaders Darrell Steinberg and John Perez say they're pleased that fund is there at all, saying it'll protect from another boom-bust cycle in the economy. Some Republicans have voiced fears that despite Brown's calls for restraint, legislative democrats will try to push for more spending during upcoming negotiations.
Listen to the audio from his speech:
The full budget proposal is available for you to review.