California budget surges to record high

By By JULIET WILLIAMS
Courtesy of the Associated Press

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A robust economic recovery and surging revenue propelled by voter-approved tax increases has sent California's general fund spending to a record high, but Gov. Jerry Brown is pledging a somber approach to the windfall.

In introducing his budget proposal Thursday, the Democratic governor said beginning to pay down California's massive "wall of debt" must be a priority.

His budget proposal for the 2014-15 fiscal year dedicates $11 billion to paying down debts and liabilities, including $6 billion in payments that had been deferred to schools.

He also sets aside $1.6 billion for a rainy day fund to protect against future downturns, saying "wisdom and prudence should be the order of the day."

The record $106.8 billion general fund exceeds the spending level of just before the recession by more than $3 billion and is a nearly 9 percent increase over spending in the current fiscal year.