I am pleased that Governor Brown has chosen to significantly increase funding for K-12 education and colleges and universities in his budget proposal. Schools and colleges have been drastically affected by devastating budget cutbacks in recent years. It is vital to California's future that we continue to invest in our children.
As chair of the Senate Budget Subcommittee on Corrections, Public Safety and the Judiciary, I fully concur with the Governor's intent to reduce spending on incarceration. We've made great strides over the past two years to reduce population in our prisons and improve the quality of medical and mental health treatment. We need to maintain that commitment while focusing our budget priorities on educating our young people.
I am, however, very concerned that we don't restrict access to our court system by further budget cuts. The courts are not just another state department. They are the third branch of constitutional government and it's vital that they have the funds to function effectively. In recent years, courthouses throughout the state have been forced to close their doors and reduce hours. This cannot continue. They must be adequately funded.
On a personal level, I'd just like to say that this will be the first time in my ten years in the State Legislature that we won't have to make tens of billions in cuts to vital programs. We've turned the corner. I am optimistic that California will begin to rebuild and reinvest, and once again be "The Golden State.'