SACRAMENTO — California Gov. Gavin Newsom proposed a $144 billion general fund budget in his first spending plan Thursday, up 4 percent from the current year.

The new governor’s budget includes $13.6 billion to build the state’s reserves and to pay down state debt and its growing pension liability. It’s in keeping with his promise to follow in the fiscally frugal path of his predecessor, termed-out Gov. Jerry Brown.

Like Brown, Newsom said he is girding the state against an inevitable recession.

“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 said in remarks prepared for his budget address.

You can check the budget out for yourself at this link.

Legislature Faces June 15 to OK Budget

Newsom’s proposal kicks off negotiations with the Legislature. Lawmakers have until June 15 to approve a balanced spending plan or lose pay.

Newsom has already outlined more than $2.5 billion in spending proposals focused on early childhood education and health care. He also plans to ask lawmakers to vastly expand the state’s paid leave program for new parents. He’s framed his budget as a “California for All” agenda that looks to close the gaps between rich and poor.

The Democratic governor is announcing his plans during a time of sustained prosperity in California, which clawed back from a $27 billion deficit following the Great Recession that required deep and painful cuts to education, health care and just about every other service offered.

Final Brown Budget was $139 Billion

This year, state revenue has soared since lawmakers and Brown approved a $139 billion budget for the fiscal year that ends June 30.

The nonpartisan legislative analyst projected in November that lawmakers would have a $15 billion surplus to allocate next year on top of $15 billion in the rainy day fund, which is at the maximum allowed under the state Constitution.

Newsom will release his own revenue estimates along with his budget, which could include an even larger surplus if his economic forecasts are rosier. He did not immediately announce his budget surplus.

He promised in his inaugural address Monday that his budget would be bold.

“We will aim high and we will work like hell to get there,” he said.

$2 Billion for Childcare, Kindergarten Facilities

Among the budget items that Newsom has already outlined are a nearly $2 billion plan to support low-income children, with much of the money earmarked for construction of childcare facilities and kindergarten classrooms.

Taking a page from Brown’s budget playbook, which targets as much new spending as possible on one-time expenditures that don’t carry a long-term cost, Newsom has focused much of his new early childhood spending on construction projects. That will limit the long-term cost of his initiative and help Newsom maintain his pledge to preserve rainy day savings.

He also wants a big boost in funding to provide full-day preschool and kindergarten to all children.

Helping low-income children in the crucial early years of life, when brains are developing rapidly, was a central campaign promise for Newsom, who has four young children and was elected with an overwhelming majority in November.

Expand Paid Leave Program

Newsom has also proposed expanding state-funded health care to low-income people living in the country illegally until their 26th birthday, up from a current cutoff at age 19. He wants to increase subsidies for people who buy their own insurance, rather than getting it from an employer or government program. His health proposals would cost $760 million a year.

And he plans to propose a significant expansion of California’s paid leave program, which allows new parents to receive a portion of their paycheck while away from work following the birth or adoption of a child. Newsom wants to eventually offer six months of leave to be split between the parents, though his initial budget will include a smaller step in that direction.

California currently replaces a portion of wages for six weeks for new parents, and birth mothers can take an additional six weeks of disability leave. The program is funded through a payroll tax. It’s unclear how he’d pay for a full six-month program.

One Response

  1. Martin Querin

    It’s great that his budget “…targets as much new spending as possible on one-time expenditures that don’t carry a long-term cost”. The great thing for the media is most people have no idea what capital costs are versus operating costs. So you can claim he is focused on expeditures that don’t carry a long-term cost, all the while ignoring the fact that you actually have to staff those facilities, which carries a very large long-term cost.

    The perfect example was the State’s construction of prisons in the late 80’s and early 90’s. All of those prisons were one-time capital expenditures that created jobs in design an construction; they sat un-staffed for years because they couldn’t afford the long-term operating costs of the staff to operate them. So then we spent millions building additional temporary housing at staffed facilities because we were under an overcrowding injunction. Children facilities and kindergarten classrooms for under-privileged children warms the heart and makes people feel good. So they stop thinking and do not connect the one-time capital cost with the fact that they need to be staffed and maintained. And that is not a one-time short-term commitment; it is an annuity that far outweighs the one-time capital cost. Building things is cheap…owning them is not; most people just ignore the cost of ownership and depreciation. It’s why our water and wastewater systems are in such bad shape. It’s hard to ignore it when you are talking about a school building, or child care facility.

    The most dangerous threat to democracy is an uneducated, unsophisticated citizenry; fortunately for most of the media and politicians, California has an over-abundance of both…political prey for political predators.

    Reply

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