State budget shows prudence during prosperity- Assemblyman Mullin Op-Ed in SMDJ

South San Francisco, CA    July 1, 2015        By Kevin Mullin Op-Ed San Mateo Daily Journal

This month, legislative leaders and Gov. Jerry Brown agreed on a budget that is good for California in the coming fiscal year and significantly builds reserves while paying down debt, and makes critical investments again in programs that will yield savings over time.

The state is currently benefiting from a prosperous California economy, led by the Bay Area’s innovative industries like biotech and high-tech revenues greatly exceeded expectations. However, we know all too well from recent history that, based on our current tax system, revenue is highly volatile. An overreliance on taxes from high-income earners and capital gains from the stock market continues to put California at risk for yet another severe budget deficit if and when the economy retracts in the future. This is why we must build our reserves and make sound investments for the future.

As the speaker pro tem of the California Assembly and a member of the Budget Committee, I am an advocate for sensible fiscal policy that invests in our state’s greatest resource, its people. This budget, the fifth consecutive on time and balanced state financial plan, does just that by increasing funding for child care and education, and by addressing poverty.

Strong Early Education programs provide a solid foundation for our children that are critical to their development and success later in life. We budgeted $265 million to fund 7,000 additional preschool slots and 6,800 child care slots, plus a rate increase for providers. $14.3 billion will go to the K-12 system and community colleges.

This budget also establishes a much needed California Earned Income Tax Credit to help the state’s poorest working families, a proposal I was proud to co-author with my colleague Assemblyman Mark Stone, D-Scotts Valley.

While these investments will pay dividends in future years, this budget also recognizes the likelihood of leaner budgets in the future. As a result, this higher than expected revenue has allowed us to pay down billions of dollars in debt owed for school deferrals, economic recovery bonds and K-14 schools, while also putting $1.9 billion into the state’s Rainy-Day Fund as required by Proposition 2.

The most fiscally sound and prudent budget the state has produced in many years does not signal an end to the work that must be done to further address current and future fiscal needs. To this end, the Legislature has convened, at the governor’s order, two special sessions focusing on our glaring transportation infrastructure deficit and financing for our health care programs. I also anticipate continuing discussions on affordable housing needs and redevelopment tools for local governments. Finally, I pledge to work with my colleagues to ensure we continue to craft sound fiscal policy that benefits all of California.

I welcome your thoughts and input and invite the residents of San Mateo County to send me a message at www.asmdc.org/Mullin or to call my office at (650) 349-2200 with suggestions.

Kevin Mullin, D-South San Francisco, is the speaker pro tempore of the California Assembly and represents the 22nd Assembly District, including communities in northern and central San Mateo County.

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