By Dan Levine
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - California governor Jerry Brown on Thursday proposed a funding increase for the state attorney general to create more than 30 new positions dedicated to combating President Donald Trump's policies.
Democratic attorneys general in states across the country have assumed lead roles in opposing some of the Republican president's agenda. State attorneys general in Washington and Hawaii successfully sued to block Trump's executive orders restricting travel from some Muslim-majority countries, and California attorney general Xavier Becerra has pledged to defend the state's environmental standards and health care access.
Brown has been particularly outspoken against Trump's policies. In budget revisions released on Thursday, Brown's office proposed a $6.5 million increase for California's Department of Justice, enough to fund 31 positions to address "various actions taken at the federal level that impact public safety, healthcare, the environment, consumer affairs and general constitutional issues."
The department has expended over 11,000 hours of legal work in response to federal issues since Trump's inauguration in January, according the governor's office.
Brown's proposals would have to be approved by California's legislature, which is dominated by Democrats.
At a press conference, Brown repeatedly expressed the need to fight the Trump administration on health care reforms under discussion in Washington. The potential loss of funds for the state's Medicaid program alone would be enough to fund the University of California system for a year, Brown said.
Given that backdrop, Brown said Becerra deserves "some latitude" in pursuing litigation.
A spokeswoman for Becerra could not immediately be reached for comment.
Brown's budget also proposed a $15 million increase to expand legal services for immigrants seeking assistance securing legal status in the United States and fighting deportation.
(Additional reporting by Sharon Bernstein in Sacramento; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)