On January 7, 2019, Governor Newsom was sworn in as the 40th governor of California. Days later on January 10, he released his budget for the 2019-2020 year. Budgets essentially are value statements and in this year’s budget Governor Newsom shows that he is valuing effective government, affordability and opportunity, and justice and dignity.
The total proposed budget for 2019-2020 is $209 billion, which is about $8 billion more than last year’s total budget. The proposed total for the general fund is $144 billion, which is an increase of 4% from last year. This article highlights key aspects of the 2019-2020 budget.
The budget calls for resiliency as the Governor has proposed $13.6 billion to continue in the effort of paying down debt, reduce the state’s unfunded pension liabilities, and continue to build and strengthen the states rainy day fund. It is projected that come the budget year 2022-2023 the total for the rainy day fund will be $19.4 billion. The governor ensures in his budget that California is taking the necessary measures to improve California’s emergency readiness, response, and recovery capabilities. Examples of this include $172.3 million for the Office of Emergency Services to upgrade the 911 system and create a California Earthquake Early Warning System.
Affordability and Opportunity
Governor Newsom addresses affordability and opportunity in several ways. He addresses this issue by proposing to expand Medi-Cal to young adults ages 19 through 25 regardless of immigration status. The budget tackles housing and homelessness head-on with $7.7 billion in funds going towards addressing the expansion of emergency shelters and tax credits to develop low and moderate income housing further. The governor seeks to make significant investments in early childhood care, as he proposes several initiatives. These initiatives include: expanding California’s Paid Family Leave program to six months, providing universal full-day, full-year preschool for all income-eligible 4-years old, and full-day kindergarten. The budget also calls for providing two years free of community college tuition to those attending full time.
Justice and Dignity
In the budget, Governor Newsom seeks to address mental illness through a Whole Person Care Pilot Program as well as propose funding set aside for early psychosis research and treatment for young people.
Governor Newsom is proposing to make significant changes in California’s Department of Correction and Rehabilitation (CDCR) by moving the youth correctional facilities from CDCR to a new department under the Health and Human Services Agency. With this move, it is suggested that the state will be able to provide justice-involved youth the services needed to be successful when they are released. The governor also includes funding for improving inmate literacy and a tattoo removal program for the adult offender population as tattoos often present as an obstacle for formerly incarcerated individuals seeking to reintegrate into society.
As of now, this is only a proposed budget that is set to be finalized by the California Legislature on June 15. However, the next significant date is May 14 when the governor will release the revised budget proposal. As of now, the public can submit letters of support or opposition to budget subcommittees meet with budget subcommittee staff and legislative leadership, and testify at budget subcommittee hearings. CHC will continue to monitor the state’s budget process and provide updates.