It Will Be Awhile Before Clear Picture of Brown’s Budget Emerges

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On Monday, budget officials across Orange County scrambled to understand the implications of the tough, and historic, budget proposed by Gov. Jerry Brown.

One thing they know: The cuts most directly affecting counties — $1.7 billion in Medi-Cal, $1.5 billion in CalWorks — are big.

But a clearer picture of what the budget will mean for Orange County won’t emerge for months, until Brown delivers the traditional “May revise.”

In the meantime, everyone — legislators, counties, cities, redevelopment agencies, school districts — will negotiate.

“It will change dramatically,” said county Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Janet Nguyen of the estimates, as she stood in the hallway near her office holding her newborn son, Thomas.

Yet Brown has made the budget process historic this year because many of his proposals also would transform the relationship between Sacramento and local government.

In addition to an attempt to effectively end local redevelopment, the governor’s budget shifts responsibilities for providing things like fire protection, parolee supervisor, low-level offender detention and court security to local jurisdictions.

But what gives budget planners across the region heartburn is figuring out how and the monies that finance those responsibilities might flow to the county.

That’s the part that takes months.

Frank Kim, who heads up the county government’s budget office, said budget planners throughout the county bureaucracy will spend the next month talking to their sources in Sacramento to find out how specific funding formulas will impact their agencies.

The real trick for budget planners, Kim said, will be forecasting expenses in the meantime.



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