There are formal and informal elements of the state budget process. One formal part is the requirement that the governor present a budget proposal to the legislature in early January (Jan. 10). The legislature is supposed to enact a budget by mid-June. But there are also informal elements. For example, it is traditional that the governor present the legislature with a “May revise” modified proposal for the budget in mid-May. Another tradition is that bits of news about the budget begin to leak out around this time. Given the realities of the complexities of the state budget, by now the basics are in place at the Department of Finance.
Sure enough, an item on the LA Times website yesterday discussed an expansion of the Medi-Cal program as part of the larger “Obamacare” plan. (Medi-Cal is what other states call Medicaid.) See http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/california-politics/2012/12/new-report-embraces-medi-cal-expansion.html. You can view such leaks in part as a testing of the waters. If anyone expected the first leak of the season to be some dramatic increase in the higher ed budget, this item should be a reminder that social welfare spending is a competitive claimant for the state’s budget dollar. It is also likely that K-12 will be relatively well treated, given that the campaign for Prop 30 revolved around money for schools.
In any event, expect the leaks to keep dripping out of the governor’s office: