Tuesday, July 21, 2009

State budget: no details yet

With the big-five negotiators having announced an agreement on the state's budget late Monday, Capitol staffers are scurrying to write bills while interest groups try to sort out the looming impacts.

Williamson Act funding, a perennial survivor of chopping attempts, could be impacted. And with reductions of local-government funding set to make up a significant portion of the state's $26 billion shortfall, agricultural commissioners' offices could see significant cuts too.

University and college funding is reportedly cut by $2.8 billion under the agreement, meaning impacts are possible to ag research and cooperative extension programs.

Much will be hammered out in trailer bills in the coming weeks, as legislators work to implement budget guidelines. But first lawmakers need to agree on the new package, which Gov. Schwarzenegger said he wants ratified by Thursday. A contentious battle is expected.

"This thing has a long ways to go," said Don Gordon, president of the Agricultural Council of California. "It's just really hard to know what's going on. We're going to be spending the next several months dealing with budget issues. It's kind of depressing actually."

A discussion of CDFA's budget situation is scheduled for tomorrow's meeting of the state Board of Food and Agriculture.

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