Bonta Statement on May Revision to Proposed State Budget

Thursday, May 14, 2020

The State of California is facing an unprecedented $54.3 billion budget deficit as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic. In order to address this devastating shortfall, Governor Newsom has proposed deep reductions to the 2020-2021 state budget which would be extremely difficult to endure.

The financial fallout from COVID-19 has hammered Californians’ personal budgets and done the same to our state’s budget. California has wisely saved up and set aside $16 billion in a rainy day fund. This will help.  But it’s not nearly enough to provide the needed critical services for 40 million Californians.

While the Governor must present these suggested cuts to the Legislature as part of his proposed budget, I know how much these impossible choices must pain him. Governor Newsom has led the fight to increase health care access, bolster education funding, and, you may recall, in January he devoted his entire State of the State address to battling the issue of homelessness by offering bold ideas to address our statewide crisis. These last 8 weeks of sheltering in place have prudently protected the public health, but they have unintentionally, though indisputably, caused economic pain and harm that we must confront and address.

Now, the Legislature, consistent with its constitutional duty, must pass a balanced budget by June 15th. As we craft this challenging budget in the face of such sobering realities, it’s beyond evident that we will need the federal government to step in to provide additional aid to state and local governments. The federal government has much greater spending power than California. This is their proper role in a time of crisis. Without federal support, we will be forced to make heartbreaking and gut-wrenching choices.

These proposed cuts include:

Education: Substantial reductions significantly affecting Early Childhood Education & Development and Higher Education, including reductions to grants for workforce development, extracurricular learning, and student support systems.

Housing: Removal of $1.4B to address the homeless crisis. However, I am happy the Governor is still prioritizing finding permanent solutions for the homeless by leveraging federal dollars to purchase Project Room Key property and maintaining ongoing state funding for affordable housing.

Health Care: A painful switch from expanding and innovating health care, like CalAIM and Health4All, to largely withdrawing from health care reforms, and instead prioritizing the pandemic while maintaining eligibility for critical services like Medi-Cal and CalWORKS.

Social Services:  Proposed decreases of $36.5 million to the Department of Aging impacting Community-Based Adult Services and Multipurpose Senior Services Programs.

The federal government can and must minimize these painful cuts to areas like education, social services, healthcare, and housing. The CARES Act was a good start, but we need additional aid. The HEROES Act would help in many ways including giving vital aid to states and local governments.

This moment will require collaboration and partnership among and between all levels of government in order to make sure every Californian makes it through this crisis.