Incoming Gov. Newsom looking to spend more on early education

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Gavin Newsom takes over as governor from Jerry Brown next week.

When Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom takes office on Monday he won't have a lot of time to tinker with a spending plan.

His proposed state budget for the upcoming fiscal year has to be presented to the Legislature by the following Thursday.

One issue he intends to fund: early childhood education, to the tune of nearly $2 billion in new spending.

"There has not been an investment proposed of this sort by a past governor in California ever," said Kim Pattillo Brownson, vice president of policy and strategy for the child advocacy group First 5 LA, which looks to make sure kids are ready to learn when they start kindergarten.

Pattillo Brownson says Newsom's plan to grow childcare services and create more kindergarten classes is one of the best ways to improve lives in the state.

"To prepare for the future of California, you have to prepare its kids," she said. "You start at the beginning with foundations that begin in health as well as early learning and education."

Most of Newsom's massive expenditure though is slated to be a one-time funding.

Future childhood education investments may be harder to get, says former California Assemblyman Mike Gatto.

"There's this myth that Governor Brown left the state with great finances," he told Eyewitness News. "That has started to turn around and Governor Newsom comes into office with a pretty challenging financial position that may manifest itself in the next year."

Gatto says California's financial health is heavily dependent on the stock market and the national economy, which he's starting to question. And he points to the super-majority in the legislature that the Democrats will hold, something he says may not be a good thing for Newsom.

"The Legislature tends to be to the left of the governor in this state," Gatto explained. "They might throw at him all kinds of proposals that he then is faced with vetoing and that's a tough position for a governor to be in."

One touchy issue that Newsom may be able to dodge is California's pricey and much criticized bullet train. Its current price tag now is topping $75 billion.

"Fate might take its own hand in this because there's a ballot initiative that's being circulated that would do away with it without the governor having a say in it," Gatto said. "If they (voters) weigh in and say 'Hey, no mas' then I think he'll let it die."
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