Newsom unveils state budget proposal

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

California liberals and conservatives have found some common ground in the issues, if not the solutions, targeted in Gov. Gavin Newsom’s budget proposal, which he unveiled Monday — just one week after taking the oath of office.

Newsom introduced his $209 billion budget by reminding Californians of the state’s historic role, from the Gold Rush to the Silicon Valley boom, in offering opportunities to those seeking a better life.

“The California Dream — the idea that every person can achieve a better life, regardless of where they start out — is central to who we are as Californians. As elected representatives of the people, it’s our job to make the California Dream real once more,” wrote Newsom.

He credited his predecessor, four-time governor Jerry Brown, with pulling the state back from the brink of fiscal insolvency. “This budget proposal doubles down on that responsible legacy, finally tearing down the remaining wall of budgetary debt, paying down pension obligations and building up the most robust and prudent budget reserve in state history.”

Newsom states in his budget summary that too many Californians simply cannot pay their bills, afford health care, put a roof over their heads or provide opportunities for their children to thrive.

He notes that a $1 billion investment in a new “Working Families Tax Credit” will help families — particularly those with young children — receive a bump in their income to help address costs of housing and child care.

A one-time $250 million is proposed to help communities plan for more housing, with an additional $500 million going to communities — to be used for general purposes — if they meet their housing goals. According to City Manager Ron Strand, that money is dedicated to housing solutions for the homeless and will most likely not impact Ridgecrest.

Newsom’s commitment to “make the California Dream more accessible and affordable to all” resonates with calls from Kern County legislators, who have been calling for relief of middle-class taxpayers in California.

“California is in the first step in a long process and I applaud the governor’s intent in his budget proposal to pay down debt, reduce unfunded retirement liabilities and prepare for a growing population,” said State Sen. Shannon Grove, who took office last month.

“However, a $21.4-billion budget surplus doesn’t mean California didn’t spend enough. It means taxpayers overpaid. We owe it to them to use it wisely, effectively and efficiently.”

“Californians across our state understand that we must live within our means, yet the governor’s proposed budget continues to spend public dollars at a record-setting level — $8 billion more than last year’s budget,” said Assemblyman Vince Fong.

“As we review the details of this budget proposal, we need to significantly expand our budget reserves, pay off our liability and debt and provide any remaining dollars for infrastructure investment.”

Some of Newsom’s proposals have already raised opposition, including a plan to reinstate the individual mandate for people to pay a penalty if they don’t purchase health insurance. He also wants to enroll immigrants 26 and younger — regardless of legal status — in Medi-Cal.

His proposal to provide six months paid leave for parents after the birth of a child has been criticized for its lack of a plan for funding.

“It’s a no-damn-brainer,” said Newsom. “I’m hoping the legislature feels the same because it’s going to cost some money.”

“This budget is far from perfect. We can do better and we must do better to protect taxpayers from economic uncertainly and unsustainable government growth,” said Grove.

“As stewards of hard-earned tax dollars, we must stop any budget diversions and gimmicks that plagued previous budgets,” said Fong. “The budget is one of the most important documents that affects the lives of all Californians.

“The public should know what is in it. California is ranked last in budget transparency — we are overdue for modernization in our budget process so that the public can see line item by line item how every state department and agency spends our tax dollars.”

Story First Published: 2019-01-18