(Lawmakers vote, changes byline, adds dateline)
By Jennifer Chausee
SACRAMENTO, Calif., June 15 The California State
Assembly approved a $156.4 billion budget plan on Sunday that
includes funding for a controversial high-speed rail project and
preschool education for low-income children.
The assembly voted 55-24 to approve the budget, a compromise
deal that sets aside money for a so-called rainy day fund in
line with Democratic Governor Jerry Brown's vision of fiscal
The vote followed months of political wrangling among
Democrats seeking to restore spending on social programs cut
during the recession.
A budget deal was reached on Friday and the vote came ahead
of a deadline of midnight on Sunday to pass it. The Senate still
has to vote on the measure.
The budget must be signed into law by Brown, who last year
used his line-item veto to kill some measures. On Friday, he
praised the legislature for "a solid and sustainable budget"
barely bigger than the $156.2 billion he had proposed in May.
California faces the upcoming fiscal year, which begins July
1, in good financial shape, thanks to new taxes approved by
voters and the resurgent economy. When Brown took over in 2011
after serving two terms from 1975 to 1983, the state faced an
18-month budget gap of $25 billion.
Brown's high-speed rail project, a $68 billion effort
opposed by Republicans, will receive $250 million in funding
from the state's cap-and-trade program. The state collects a fee
after polluters buy and sell their rights to emit carbon into
As part of a compromise with Brown, lawmakers negotiated
additional commitments for cap-and-trade funds, including money
for affordable housing, mass transit and clean energy projects.
Other compromises included an expansion of public
pre-kindergarten for low-income 4-year-olds, a priority of
Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, a Democrat who
Lawmakers also plan to include a requirement that $1 billion
of education funds be used for specific purposes. They include
implementing national Common Core curriculum standards,
vocational education and assistance for school districts with a
high percentage of disadvantaged students, said Assembly member
Nancy Skinner, a Berkeley Democrat.
(Editing by Sharon Bernstein, Ian Simpson and Sandra Maler)