SF Gate: "California budget expected to soar in next 4 years"

Wyatt Buchanan, Chronicle Sacramento Bureau

Over the next four years, California's general fund budget is projected to grow from $88.8 billion to $112.5 billion, but that additional money - which will raise the general fund to its highest level in history - will not restore recent cuts to parks, health care and social services.

Instead, more than half will be automatically spent on K-12 schools and community colleges because of voter-approved Proposition 98, while most of the remaining increase will cover rising costs of health care, prisons and the costs of debt and borrowing.

California's general fund has been dramatically cut over the past few years. In 2008, prior to the financial downturn, California was projected to spend $122.5 billion in 2011-12, while Gov. Jerry Brown's budget proposal calls for spending nearly $34 billion less than that. Brown has touted the statistic that under next year's budget, general fund spending is at 1972 levels when compared to personal income in the state.