Transcript: Press briefing remarks by CA Senate Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg announcing an agreement for the 2013-14 state budget

Transcript of press briefing remarks by California Senate Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) announcing an agreement for the 2013-14 state budget on June 11, 2013:

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, Gov. Brown.

Well, I guess I need to start off by saying “Ho hum. Another on-time, balanced budget in California.” This is the third year in a row, and this one feels better than even the first two.

I want to thank the Governor and the Speaker. You have both done an outstanding job and we have done this together with our respective caucuses as well as the Republicans in both of our houses.

The Governor has insisted on fiscal balance and a fundamental reform on how we finance public schools. Those objectives are in this budget and we’re very proud to join him.

The Speaker has fought for middle-class scholarships for college students at our public universities. That far-reaching proposal is in this budget and we are very proud to support that.

For my part, I reflect upon the last 4 years of just how far and long California has come. I stood here in 2009 as the new leader of the state Senate staring down the barrel of a $42 billion deficit. We stand here today and the budget is in black, balanced, and better prepared to weather the storms ahead.

With the economic crisis behind us, we came to the table with an eye on the future but mindful of the past.

From day one, like the Assembly and the Governor, we prioritized the reserve, repayments, and limited re-investments while living within the state’s means.

But we also recognize that in order to get the budget in balance over the past 5 years – 5 difficult years – we had to make some unspeakable cuts, especially cuts to California safety net that hurt those least able to help themselves.

In ’09, we eliminated dental care for low-income Californians. Millions suffered and it shifted pressure – cost pressure – to hospitals and emergency rooms.

Over this course of time, we cut $700 million from the core mental health system. Many suffered, and we shifted cost pressure to emergency rooms, homeless agencies, and the criminal justice system.

The budget not only is in balance but it begins to provide some relief to the people who were hurt the most over the last several years.

Dental care restored to 3 million low-income Californians, including those who recently camped overnight for an exam at a volunteer dental fair.

For the first time in California, this budget sets mental health as the budget’s highest augmentation outside of education – 2,000 crisis beds, 25 mobile crisis teams, and 600 triage workers to ease the burden on hospitals, homeless shelters, and jails and help save lives.

Expanding career-oriented education at schools as a counterpart to the Governor’s visionary finance reform. $250 million for competitive grants to help thousands of high school students graduate and be better prepared for college and the workforce.

These are limited re-investments.

To put the numbers in context, we’ve made an aggressive $5.3 billion commitment to a rainy day fund and debt repayment. The re-investments are just 0.5% of the state’s general fund.

And so we have managed to imperfectly – because it’s always imperfect – but to maintain fiscal balance, to pay down debt aggressively, and to begin re-invest again in California’s future.

Again, this is always a partnership, and negotiations could be tough. But the three of us and our colleagues over the last 2 years have managed to come together in a positive way every time.


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