It’s that time of year: Gov. Gavin Newsom presented his revised budget proposal Friday, presenting a proposal totaling $300.7 million.
The proposal includes about $37.1 billion in reserves, encompassing $23.3 billion for a rainy day fund, $9.5 billion for a school stabilization reserve and $900 million for a safety net reserve.
Gov. Newsom’s budget is underscored by a $97.5 billion projected operating surplus. The revision includes funding for public safety, education, housing, gas tax relief and initiatives to combat homelessness.
“Backed by a robust surplus and grounded in our unshakable values, we’re paving the California Way forward to prosperity and progress for all,” Gov. Newsom, who is up for re-election this year, said. “With historic investments, we’re doubling down on our formula for success and making sure no one is left behind — supporting working families and businesses, tackling climate change, expanding health care access, making our communities safer and more.”
Included in Gov. Newsom’s budget proposal is an $18.1 billion package for “inflation relief.” That package includes $11.5 billion in tax refunds, $2.7 billion for emergency rental assistance and $1.4 billion for utility bill aid. It also includes funding for three months of free public transit and checks for hospital and nursing home staff.
Gov. Newsom included $660 million in public safety initiatives with nearly half of that earmarked for efforts to combat the opioid epidemic. Other funds were proposed to help tribes locate and identify missing and murdered indigenous people and protect child victims of sex trafficking.
“Safety has to be broadly defined right now,” Gov. Newsom said.
The governor’s homelessness plan includes investments into encampment cleanup grants, tiny home grants for local governments to utilize, Homekey expansion and implementation of his CARE Court plan.
This May revision includes an additional $700 million from the $2 billion proposed in January to address homelessness.
As expected, the governor’s budget includes an additional $57 million for reproductive health care services — up from $68 million in January — in the wake of a leaked U.S. Supreme Court draft opinion overruling Roe v. Wade.
The Democratic governor slammed U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., for his role in delaying a Supreme Court appointee from then-President Barack Obama at the end of his term — paving the way for former President Donald Trump to put three people on the bench.
Gov. Newsom also didn’t miss opportunities to hit red states, such as Florida and Texas, during his presentation.
“I see some of those governors out there, their big idea of education reform is what you can’t say in a classroom,” Gov. Newsom said, hitting those who have focused on regulating so-called critical race theory or banning books. “That’s what all the time and attention goes to. That’s not education period, let alone reform.”
The governor’s budget includes $128.3 billion in TK-12 funding, about $19 billion more than was included in the January proposal. This translates to about $22,800 total per pupil and nearly $17,000 in Proposition 98 per-pupil spending.
“I’m very supportive of the Governor’s proposed increased investment in California’s education system,” Santa Barbara County Supervisor Gregg Hart, a Democratic contender for Assembly, told the News-Press Friday. “The Governor’s education funding increase will be the highest per-pupil funding level in the state’s history.”
State Superintendent Tony Thurmond said the investments unveiled in Gov. Newsom’s proposal would alleviate the stress schools feel as they attempt to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. The funds will be instrumental for student mental health and teacher retention, Superintendent Thurmond said.
Ahead of Friday’s presentation, Republican legislative leaders stressed the budget should include a full gas tax moratorium, an increase in the renter’s tax credit and the implementation of a student tax credit to offset rising transportation, housing and other school expenses.
“California is going to hell in a handbasket under a one-party rule,” said Senate GOP Leader Scott Wilk of Santa Clarita.
After Friday’s presentation, Sen. Wilk said: “The governor is living in an election-year Fantasyland if he believes debit cards and rebates in the fall will provide relief now.”
Republicans also said the state should prioritize investments in water storage and wildfire preparation.
Gov. Newsom’s proposal does include $2.7 billion for wildfire resilience efforts and $2 billion (on top of last year’s $5.2 billion) for near- and long-term efforts to address drought. Additionally, it included funding to cool schools and neighborhoods dealing with excessive heat.
“Santa Barbara County residents will also be very pleased to see the increased state investment in wildfire protection and drought assistance,” Supervisor Hart said. “These programs will directly assist our local government efforts to protect our communities from the increasing impact of climate change.”
Ahead of the governor’s revisions, the Volcker Alliance, a non-profit founded by the late Federal Reserve Board Chairman Paul Volcker, warned California was at risk of encouraging a “fiscal cliff” by earmarking the deluge of one-time federal relief funds for projects needing recurring expenditures.
“It’s nice we have extra revenue, but we have to be careful with how we spend it,” Sen. Jim Nielsen, R-Red Bluff, said in a statement Friday. “We absolutely should not create new, future funding obligations. Budget priorities need to be focused on water infrastructure, wildfire prevention, homelessness and public safety.”