California budget would fund high-speed rail, free preschool

California lawmakers are expected to approve a $156.4 billion budget plan on Sunday that includes funding for a controversial high-speed rail project as well as money for pre-K education for low-income children while also chipping away at the state’s debt, officials said. The budget, a compromise deal that sets aside money for a so-called rainy day fund in line with Governor Jerry Brown’s vision of fiscal restraint, follows months of political wrangling among Democrats seeking to restore spending on social programs cut during the recession. “For years California’s budgets were about getting out of a hole,” Democratic Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, of San Diego, said after a budget deal was reached on Friday. On Friday, he praised the legislature for “a solid and sustainable budget” barely bigger than the $156.2 billion he had proposed in May. California faces the upcoming fiscal year, which begins July 1, in good financial shape, thanks to new taxes approved by voters and the resurgent economy.

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