Gov. Gavin Newsom plans to delay $100 million of a $250 million pledge in infrastructure funding for downtown Fresno to whittle away at a multi-billion budget deficit.
Newsom introduced his budget outlook on Wednesday, citing a shortfall of $38 billion. The independent Legislative Analyst’s Office previously projected a $68 billion deficit.
Last year, the state included $250 million for downtown Fresno — $50 million for Fiscal Year 2024; $100 million for FY 2025; and $100 million for FY 2026. Mayor Jerry Dyer said most of the money would be used for infrastructure such as parking structures, sidewalks, sewer, and water lines in downtown and Chinatown.
“To address the projected budget shortfall, the Budget proposes General Fund solutions to achieve a balanced budget,” the governor’s budget summary states. “These include: A delay of $100 million General Fund for the City of Fresno’s Public Infrastructure plan. The 2023 Budget Act included $250 million General Fund to support the development of downtown Fresno. The Budget maintains $50 million in 2023-24 for this purpose and delays the remaining $200 million General Fund by one year, resulting in $100 million being available in 2025-26 and 2026-27.”
Mayor: No Significant Disruptions
“I do not anticipate any significant disruptions in our downtown and Chinatown revitalization plans as a result of this delay.” — Mayor Jerry Dyer
Mayor Jerry Dyer told GV Wire he learned of the news Tuesday night, in a call with Analea Patterson, Newsom’s cabinet secretary.
“The Governor also wanted me to know that he is not backing away from his commitment to Downtown Fresno and is still committed to providing the entire $250 million,” Dyer said.
“As a Mayor, I recognize the financial challenges facing the State of California and the need to make cuts and defer prior budgetary commitments in order to balance the State budget. We will continue to be relentless in the pursuit of these dollars and to ensure Fresno receives what was previously committed by the Governor and the Legislature.
“I do not anticipate any significant disruptions in our downtown and Chinatown revitalization plans as a result of this delay,” Dyer said.
Arambula: I Will Fight to Keep Funds for Fresno
Assemblymember Dr. Joaquin Arambula (D-Fresno) issued a statement to GV Wire about the governor’s plans to delay the $100 million in state funding.
“This is part of Governor Newsom’s proposed State budget in a tough fiscal year,” Arambula said. “But I will continue to strongly advocate to keep these funds directed toward Fresno, and I look forward to continued conversations with the Governor and his administration as we all work toward a revised budget in May.
“I appreciate that the Governor recognized that the Central Valley hasn’t historically received its fair share of resources, and that he made this commitment to fund economic development for downtown Fresno.”
The city’s planned spending included two parking structures, an intermodal transit center, and parks.
Assemblyman Vince Fong (R-Bakersfield), vice chairman of Assembly Budget Committee, wants the state to make critical investments in the Central Valley.
“I’ve always fought for needed investments in the Central Valley. The challenge is that the governor has had misplaced priorities. He’s throwing money at other problems and not at the basic fundamental needs of our region,” Fong said.
Fresno City Councilman Mike Karbassi remains optimistic.
“I think so long as the commitment from the Governor remains to just defer this funding instead of totally cutting, with the amount we have on hand, it should carry us through. We aren’t taking our foot off the gas,” Karbassi said.
Elliott Balch, president/CEO of the Downtown Fresno Partnership, is also optimistic.
“We remain excited about the state’s funding for the infrastructure needed to support more housing in Downtown Fresno. At DFP, we’ll be working with the city and with our business owners, property owners and community to put this additional time to use in preparing for the investment. Full speed ahead,” Balch said.
How the city planned to spend the $250 million when it was announced in the 2023 state budget. (Source: City of Fresno)