Tax receipts brighten Brown’s rewritten budget, schools benefit

Improving by fits and starts, the state’s economy is the subtext of the Brown administration’s recast budget, bringing in an estimated $6.6 billion more than expected through the middle of 2012 and pushing the projected shortfall to below $10 billion, just over a third of the projection in January.

Less than half that surprise cash is in hand yet, but the expectation of budget writers is that it’s coming — a significant flow but not enough to erase the deficit or prevent long-planned, deep cuts.

Gov. Brown said he won’t seek taxes without voter approval, including an income-tax surcharge.

The governor’s revised budget can be viewed here.

New income taxes, which appeared likely only weeks ago, are being put on hold for at least a year. His proposal to abolish enterprise zones also was halted, at least temporarily, because of opposition in the Capitol. Brown acknowledged that “we didn’t have the votes.”

Driven in part by the unanticipated revenue, the Democratic governor proposed giving schools about $3 billion more than he earlier sought.

In all, he proposed some $89 billion in spending for the 2011-12 fiscal year that begins July 1, and nearly half that amount goes to education.

The heaviest cuts in the budget were made in developmental services and social services, including Medi-Cal, welfare assistance, mental health services and a $420 million hit to In-Home Supportive Services.

Among the surprise cuts was the elimination of the California Postsecondary Education Commission.

The Brown administration said abolishing the 37-year-old panel would have little impact on higher education policy, although the commission has been closely identified with California’s Master Plan for Higher Education and has served as a policy and research resource for decades.

Another elimination: The California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board, which for years has served as a haven for top political appointees and was created through a bipartisan agreement.

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