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California's infrastructure left out of Gov. Jerry Brown's budget

Jerry Brown speaks at the inaugural for his fourth and final term on Monday, Jan. 5, 2015.
File photo by Andrew Nixon/ Capital Public Radio
California officials acknowledge the state's infrastructure could use a $66 billion upgrade but Gov. Jerry Brown's budget for fiscal year 2015-16 doesn't offer any relief.

Gov. Jerry Brown acknowledges California's crumbling roads, highways and bridges are a multi-billion dollar problem - but his newly released budget won't provide much relief.

His spending plan allocates $478 million for maintenance on the state's universities, parks, prisons and hospitals, a tiny fraction of the $66 billion the state needs to spend to catch up with deferred maintenance, according to the state Department of Finance.

"We do have a need and we’re going to have to take care of it," Brown said during a morning news conference to release his $113 billion budget proposal. But he acknowledged he's not tackling the state's deep infrastructure needs in this budget. 

"I have a team working on infrastructure," he said, "and we’re going to start engaging the constituency groups, including Republican leaders, and we’re going to try to find what avenues of funding might be available."

A report by the Department of Finance said a failure to properly fund maintenance and repair leaves agencies to do the minimum - and that can lead to big problems down the line.

"Deferring routine maintenance can lead to facility deterioration—and ultimately failure—and sometimes the need to replace the facility sooner than otherwise would have been required if  properly maintained," according to the Department of Finance's five-year infrastructure plan.

Tough budget cycles have increased the state's reliance on debt to finance major projects. Between 1974 and 1999, California issued $38.4 billion in bonds. That figure exploded to $103.2 billion in the past 15 years. Many of those more recent bonds were for education, housing and water quality. 

At this point, $1 out of every $2 spent on an infrastructure project goes toward paying down the bonds' interest rather than repairing the actual problem, according to the Department of Finance. 

Here's how the state's $66 billion repair bill breaks down:

  • Department of Transportation $59 billion 
  • Judicial Branch $1.93 billion 
  • Department of Parks and Recreation $1.42 billion
  • California Community Colleges $1.034 billion
  • Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation $996 million
  • California State University $692 million
  • Department of Developmental Services $387 million
  • Department of General Services $138 million
  • Department of Forestry and Fire Protection $126 million
  • California Military Department $109 million
  • University of California $100 million
  • Network of California Fairs $57 million
  • Department of State Hospitals $54 million
  • State Special Schools $25 million
  • Department of Fish and Wildlife $21 million
  • Department of Veterans Affairs $21 million
  • California Highway Patrol $17 million
  • California Science Center $6 million
  • Department of Motor Vehicles $5 million 
  • Office of Emergency Services $4 million
  • Department of Food and Agriculture $3 million
  • California Conservation Corps $300,000

The Legislature will review the budget and must pass a bill by June 15. The new budget would go into effect July 1.