BY KRISTINA HACKER
Gov. Gavin Newsom released a proposed state budget that increases spending by 2.3 percent and includes giving taxpayer-funded health benefits to older adults living in the country illegally, funding for a medical school at UC Merced and a new tax on vaping.
Newsom’s $222 billion proposed state budget increases spending by about $5 billion, but it also would boost state reserves to $21 billion in case of an economic downturn. In addition, the state would get $107 billion from the federal government for various programs.
The budget proposal is a record spending level, prompting caution from local legislators.
“The Governor’s proposed budget increases spending to an alarming $222.2 billion,” said Senator Andreas Borgeas. “We have seen California’s $21.5 billion surplus in Fiscal Year 2019-20 drop to an estimated $4 to $7 billion surplus in FY 2020-21, according to the Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) 2020 Fiscal Outlook. Should current trends continue, California may enter a recession in the next fiscal year. Therefore, California’s fiscal approach should be prudent and responsible, remembering that investments in infrastructure, disaster preparedness, transportation, housing and water are our most immediate concerns.”
Newsom detailed his proposal for nearly three hours on Friday, lauding California’s growing reserves and bountiful surpluses.
Last year, California became the first state to offer full taxpayer-funded health benefits to low-income adults 25 and younger living in the country illegally. This year, Newsom wants to extend those benefits to adults 65 and older living in the country illegally. The coverage would begin in 2021 and cover about 27,000 people initially with an estimated cost of $350 million when fully implemented.
But he did not make people living in the country illegally eligible for the state’s earned income tax credit, which gives money to low-income people as part of their tax refunds.
“One is health care, a right from my perspective, and one is allowing working families to keep more of what they earn. I distinguish the two,” Newsom said. “It’s also a question of capacity. We want to do a lot of things, but we can’t do everything.”
The budget proposes a $217.7 million ongoing General Fund augmentation to support a 5 percent increase in base resources for UC campuses and service expansion for the UC San Francisco School of Medicine Fresno Branch Campus in partnership with UC Merced, among other programs.
“The Central Valley continues to have some of the lowest numbers of doctors per capita in the state, and the need will only increase as existing physicians retire,” said Assemblymember Adam Gray. “Governor Newsom’s proposed budget allocates $15 million per year in ongoing funding to UC Merced and UCSF-Fresno to expand medical education in the Valley. This investment will allow more students to train to become doctors right here in the Valley, and it will directly increase access to care in our community – one of my top priorities during my time in the legislature. I am encouraged by Governor Newsom’s ongoing commitment to the Central Valley and with his investments in education and health care.”
BY KRISTINA HACKER