Steady, frugal government. That, generally, is what Gov. George Deukmejian has provided California for the past three years. And that, essentially, is what he promises for 1986 in his State of the State address and his 1986-87 budget. It is not spectacular, but it seems to fit the mood of post-Proposition 13 California. Not to be over-looked is the fact that Deukmejian's frugal leader-ship helped California emerge from the 1982-83 recession without a tax increase while most other states were raising revenues.
Given that framework, the Republican governor's priorities generally are in the right place. Specifically, his rhetoric and his budget continue to emphasize education while keeping most other programs at existing levels. The new budget of $36.2 billion provides $17 billion for all levels of education--an increase of nearly 9% over the current year and roughly 5% over expected inflation during the coming year.
Deukmejian's crusade to restore the stature of California's higher-education system to the level that it enjoyed in the 1950s and 1960s is a hallmark of his Administration. A 5% pay increase, which applies generally for most state employees, will maintain a modest edge in UC faculty salaries over comparable institutions. Also, the new budget appears to elevate emphasis on the role of the community colleges, relative to Deukmejian budgets of the past three years, as an integral part of the total higher-education scheme.