State budget must prioritize needs of every day Californians

State budget must prioritize needs of every day CaliforniansAssemblyman Vince Fong – For the second consecutive year, the state is taking an estimated $27 billion more in taxes than state finance officials expected.

Last year, the Governor approved a record $262.5 billion state budget. That budget process, however, was chaotic and dragged out by last minute deals. The lack of transparency and public input was troubling.

Make no mistake. Californians deserve a permanent tax relief. The fact that the state is receiving another year of multi-billion dollars in surplus monies means we are overtaxed. This is a fight worthy of our efforts.

While I push for Californians to keep more of their hard earned dollars, I also understand the challenges facing our state. That’s why I urged the Governor to prioritize the basic needs and state functions that affect the quality of life of all Californians.

The public deserves high quality education for our children, safe communities, and a healthy economy that creates and retains jobs. Smart long term investments in the next budget will ensure California’s bright future by building new water storage, strengthening our supply chain capacity, and preventing catastrophic wildfires. To meet these public demands, the state budget should include the following:

Improve Education Outcomes - State funding for education programs has reached record highs, yet kids continue to struggle with more than a year of learning losses, school districts are facing teacher shortages, and parents are unhappy with many facets of their children’s educations. Parents must have more control at their children’s schools, charter and home-based students need support and more mental health assistance for students.

Fully Fund Public Safety - Crimes, especially violent crimes, are increasing. Californians are feeling unsafe. Now is the opportunity to invest in public safety.

Invest in Wildfire Prevention - Last year’s budget dedicated more than $1.5 billion for wildfire prevention with the goal of treating 500,000 acres per year. This funding must be done annually.

Build Meaningful Infrastructure - California’s infrastructure is crumbling. It is inefficient, overburdened, and struggling to meet the demands of 40 million residents. There is no better time to modernize the supply chain, expand water storage, and improve our roads capacity.

Make California More Affordable - Everyday Californians are being crushed by an affordability crisis worsened by inflation and taxes, while the state treasury has tremendous revenues. Inflation increased to 6.8 percent for the 12 months ending in October, the largest 12-month increase since June 1982. Californians are overtaxed. The state must make life more affordable.

Address California’s Health and Homelessness Crisis - Despite spending an additional $12 billion last year on homelessness issues, the number of unsheltered people living on the street continues to rise. Putting a roof over peoples’ heads is important, but it is not the only answer. We must address two critical components to the homelessness crisis: substance use disorders and mental illness.

Taxpayers’ dollars must be spent wisely and sensibly with a budget that empowers parents, keeps neighborhoods safe, prioritizes meaningful infrastructure, and makes California more affordable.

Story First Published: 2022-02-11