Dems say they'll pass budget with or without agreement with Governor Brown

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A view of the California State Capitol in Sacramento. Legislative leaders return next week to hashing out agreements on the governor’s proposed $8 billion in cuts to health, welfare, scholarships and more.

Democrats in the state legislature say they’ll pass a budget by Friday’s constitutional deadline – whether or not they’ve reached total agreement with Governor Brown.

In a briefing Wednesday, Assembly Speaker John Perez and Senate Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg said they’ve agreed to 99 percent of the Governor’s budget proposal, but they’re still in negotiations over about half a billion in cuts to welfare benefits.

Late Tuesday the Governor issued a statement saying “The legislature has agreed to some tough cuts” but he said their budget “is not structurally balanced and puts us into a hole in succeeding years.”

Brown said the budget needed structural reforms to cut state spending over the long term “including welfare reform that’s built on President Clinton's framework and focused on getting people back to work.”

Democrats have rejected Brown’s plan to cut $800 million in welfare benefits that would reduce the time low-income familes can receive grants under Cal Works, California’s "welfare to work" program from four years to two. Brown’s also proposed to cut children-only grants by 27 percent. Those grants cover basic necessities for children whose parents exhaust their Cal Works Benefits.

Democrats say the changes would push more low-income families into the streets.

They propose to keep a smaller cash reserve instead and save $300 million on Cal Works by suspending job training and childcare for parents with small children.

“It absolutely makes sense to train people for work when work is available, ” Speaker Perez said Wednesday. “We have 2 million people out of work in California, we don’t have 2 million jobs.”

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