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Newsom First Budget Focuses On ‘California Dream’

Sacramento, CA — California Governor Gavin Newsom’s first budget proposal of $209 billion includes 144 billion in general fund spending, special funds and bonds.

Newsom’s budget is a 4 percent hike in spending from Governor Jerry Brown’s final budget. In announcing his budget today, which includes $13.6 billion to boost reserves and pay down debt and pension liabilities, Newsom referred to his inaugural speech where he described the “California Dream” as a house that will be built together. He defined it, saying, “To make the California Dream available to all, our state must be fiscally sound. This budget lays a strong financial foundation for our state by eliminating debts, expanding the rainy-day fund and paying down our unfunded liabilities.”

Newsom’s proposed budget expands the earned income tax credit, adds $1.3 billion for housing development and nearly $2 billion for early childhood education and care. The latter also includes two free years of community college tuition for first-time, full-time students. As reported here Tuesday, Newsom outlined $105 million in new fire-related spending in the budget targeting some of the monies towards purchasing new fire engines to pre-deploy in fire prone areas, improve camera technology to monitor fire threats, fix up firefighting aircraft and upgrade the emergency system.

Reaction to Newsom’s budget by Republicans was a mixed bag with some agreeing that more disaster funding is needed and others concerned that he is not doing enough to prepare for an inevitable recession. Mother Lode Republican Assemblyman Frank Bigelow called the budget “ambitious” and warned that every new program costs taxpayers. He commended the focus on issues, like wildfires, that affect rural Californians, stating, “I find common ground with the Governor on forest health. Preventing catastrophic and devastating wildfires has been a top priority as both a volunteer firefighter of 40 years and Assemblymember in Sacramento.” He also pledged to roll up his sleeves to work on the critical issue of the state’s healthcare system.

While agreeing with the need to invest in education, protecting communities from wildfires and upgrading the 911 system, Assembly Republican Leader Marie Waldron cautioned, “While California’s fiscal picture this year is strong, the longer-term economic outlook is less certain. Our state liabilities are substantial, so we must avoid overcommitting the state with programs that will be threatened when our economy slows. I applaud the Governor’s decision to increase our reserves and pay down a portion of the state’s wall of debt.”

Democrats praised the new Democratic governor’s initiatives on education, affordable housing and health care.  Newsom noted that 86 percent of the new spending is for one-time investments. Lawmakers must approve a spending plan by June 15. His entire proposed budget can be viewed here.