Often, especially in good economic times, budgets can be powerful instruments to improve lives, advance values, and change trajectories. But in trying and unprecedented economic times like this, we must make sure our budget also serves as a tool of protection, preservation, and provision.
And we must always keep in mind our most vulnerable community members—those who suffer first and worst in an economic recession.
Today, I voted for a $142.9 billion state budget that will protect the most vulnerable Californians from deep and devastating harm. This spending plan builds on the Governor’s proposals-- but preserves more investments in vital services like education and social services.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been unprecedented. As our state has worked to put public health first and save lives with effective shelter at home policies, the unfortunate and unintended consequence has been millions of Californians out of work and millions more experiencing reduced pay.
For the last month, I’ve been speaking out in support of a budget approach that doesn’t simply cut our way out of this $54 billion pandemic-induced deficit.
Doing so would hurt the very people who’ve already been harmed the most, have the most to lose, and are least able to bear the burdens of this recession. That’s wrong. Instead of over-cutting now, we must continue to work with our partners in Congress to deliver more financial assistance to California.
And I believe we must also look at ways to enhance our state’s revenue.
We should be exploring a millionaire’s tax, asking large corporations who’ve benefitted most from our roughly 10-year period of unparalleled economic growth, who’ve grown and profited even during the COVID-19 pandemic, and who benefited from Trump’s federal tax cuts and federal stimulus relief to contribute a little more to help ensure we have a California For All that leaves no one behind.
This is the right thing to do. I’ve always believed that a society should be judged by how it treats its most vulnerable.
I’ve said before and say again here: A budget is more than numbers on a page or in a spreadsheet. It’s a reflection of our values. It reveals our priorities. I believe now more than ever we must focus on protecting those most in need in order to prevent devastating and permanent harm.
Passing a budget is not the end of our efforts. The Legislature is committed to working with Governor Newsom to ensure our state is strong, resilient, fiscally responsible, and poised for better times ahead.