Lawmakers approve budget to fund bullet train, preschool slots

Lawmakers approve budget to fund bullet train, preschool slots

California lawmakers on Sunday approved a $156.4 billion budget, including funding for the state's controversial high-speed rail/bullet train project and preschool education for children of low-income families, for the next fiscal.

Following the California Assembly's approval, the state Senate also approved the plan with 25-11 vote. The spending plan represents a compromise deal that sets aside funds for a so-called rainy day fund along the lines of the governor's vision of fiscal restraint.

The plan was approved after months of political wrangling between the administration of Governor Brown and Democrats, who had been demanding the governor to restore spending on social programs that was slashed during the recession.

During floor deliberations, Senator Mark Leno said, "This budget is not perfect, but after a very dark time, we are stepping out into the light."

As per the budget plan, the state's high-speed rail project will receive $250 million in the next fiscal year, which will start on July 1. In the subsequent years, the project will receive 25 per cent of cap-&-trade revenue, which will be generated from fees to polluters who emit greenhouse gases above the set limits.

On the other hand, Democrats managed to get $264 million for various new programs for children. Around 11,500 preschool slots will be created for children of low-income families by June 2015, with another 31,500 to be created in following years.

The budget plan for the fiscal 2014-15 now awaits Democratic Governor Jerry Brown's signature to take effect from July 1, 2014.