Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, said he embraces Brown's effort to spend more on education and pay down hidden debt over time.
"I can only add that we can't forget and won't forget mental health, dental care and subsistence for the elderly and disabled and other related issues as the year progresses," Steinberg said.
Assembly Republican Leader Connie Conway, R-Tulare, called the governor "the adult in the room," something no GOP member would have said two years ago when the governor wanted tax hikes.
"He may need us because our restraint agrees with his, and we believe that we may be more restrained than some of our colleagues across the aisle," Conway said.
Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff, R-Diamond Bar, appreciated the governor's message of austerity but noted that Brown's budget devotes higher taxes not just to schools but other state programs, contrary to the message of the initiative campaign.
"The parents and the students that voted for Prop. 30 because it was going to go toward education should be disappointed," Huff said.
While Brown touted his budget's hold-the-line aspect, some spending will grow because past cuts will expire or he saw fit to add money.
State workers will return to full employment after a furlough-type cut expires in June, adding $402 million in general fund costs. The state will spend $143 million more to help welfare-to-work recipients develop job skills.
Still, advocates for health and welfare programs criticized Brown for overlooking their needs. Vanessa Aramayo, director of the California Partnership coalition, said Brown and Democrats should consider taxes on oil production or reducing corporate tax breaks if need be.
"It's all about choices, and he's choosing to put Wall Street ahead of Californians and the state's most vulnerable," she said. "We're calling on him to put families first."
The state's judicial leaders were among the most frustrated Thursday. Brown proposed taking $200 million from their construction funds and kept their operational budget flat. Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye noted that courts in Los Angeles, Fresno and San Bernardino counties are slated to close without additional funds.
"This budget doesn't answer our challenges and our problems," she said. She added that many trial courts are "still on reduced hours and not able to provide full justice to the public, particularly families and the injured."
The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office estimated in November that California faced a $1.9 billion deficit rather than the balanced budget Brown sees. Both predict surpluses in future years.
The governor used more optimistic assumptions to bridge the difference. He maintains that the state will reap hundreds of millions of dollars more from ending redevelopment agencies and using cap-and-trade revenue. He also will delay $600 million in special state fund loan repayments.
Here are highlights of Gov. Jerry Brown's proposed budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1:
Taxes: Includes an extra $15 billion in revenue through June 2014 due to voter approval of Proposition 30, which increased income taxes on high earners and raised sales taxes. The tax increases allowed schools to avoid deep trigger cuts in December.
K-12 schools: Provides $56.2 billion for the year, a $2.7 billion increase over the current year. Budget includes additional money for smaller class sizes in K-3, but doesn't require districts to use the money for that. Shifts adult education to community colleges.