Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday unveiled his 2022-2023 spending plan for California, a proposal which demonstrates the state’s fiscal health through a nearly $50 billion surplus.
The $286.4 billion budget proposal represents a 9% increase from last year’s record-breaking budget and features $21 billion of surplus money which can be used as discretionary spending. In total, the state surplus is $45.7 billion thanks to a strong economic recovery and higher-than-anticipated tax revenues.
“With major new investments to tackle the greatest threats to our state’s future, the California Blueprint lights the path forward to continue the historic progress we’ve made on our short-term and long-term challenges, including responding to the evolving pandemic, fighting the climate crisis, taking on persistent inequality and homelessness, keeping our streets safe and more,” Newsom said in a statement. “As California’s robust recovery continues, we’re doubling down on our work to ensure all our communities can thrive.”
The budget proposal features $34.6 billion in reserves and continues to pay down long-term retirement debts, while also focusing on major investments in five focus areas: COVID-19 mitigation, climate change, homelessness, cost of living and public safety.
Newsom’s plan proposes $2.7 billion to ramp up vaccines, boosters, statewide testing and an increase in medical personnel to meet potential COVID-19 surges. The governor has asked state legislators to approve about half of that money now as emergency assistance this fiscal year in an effort to help healthcare workers beat the current Omicron surge.
The proposal also provides $648 million to support firefighters, helicopters and bulldozers fighting worsening wildfires, along with an additional $1.2 billion to step-up forest management and other practices. Last year, the state dedicated $1.5 billion to this same effort.
On top of last year’s $5.2 billion water package, the proposal makes an additional $750 million investment for immediate drought response to aid farmers, residents and wildlife as the state fights through a historic drought.
In the fight against homelessness, Newsom has proposed $2 billion go toward mental health housing and services, as well as the clearing of encampments. The state also hopes to fight income inequality by tackling rising costs in healthcare, housing, child care and business.
As part of the proposed budget, California would become the first state in the nation to offer universal healthcare coverage for all state residents, regardless of immigration status. Newsom’s plan proposes spending $2.2 billion a year to expand Medi-Cal eligibility for all low-income residents. If approved, the budget would expand coverage for about 700,000 additional people and could take effect by 2024. The plan also aims to create more housing California desperately needs with $2 billion in new grants and tax credits.
In terms of public safety, Newsom’s plan focuses on three key areas to fight and prevent crime:
· Bolstering law enforcement and local response to stop and apprehend criminals, including $255 million in grants to local law enforcement and creating a new Smash and Grab Enforcement Unit to combat organized retail crime and grants for impacted small businesses.
· More prosecutors to hold perpetrators accountable, ensuring District Attorneys are effectively and efficiently prosecuting criminals, and creating a new statewide team of investigators and prosecutors to go after perpetrators.
· Getting guns and drugs off our streets – creating a new statewide gun buyback program, holding the gun industry accountable with nation-leading legislation, and intercepting drugs at the border.
For further information on these and other items in the California Blueprint, visit www.ebudget.ca.gov.