Share Your State Budget Priorities with Me
Governor Newsom unveiled his 2019-2020 budget proposal on Thursday. It's an impressive spending plan that represents a collaboration with the Legislature. As the budget process moves forward in the coming months, I look forward to working with the Governor to create a final budget that serves the people of California and one that's a reflection of our shared values and priorities.
Here are some of my thoughts after reviewing the proposed budget. I encourage everyone to get involved in the process and share your thoughts and priorities with me.
Investing Big in Early Childhood Education
Few investments will pay the kind of dividends that early childhood education does. And I'm very pleased that our Governor is committed to making our young children a top priority. Research shows 90 percent of brain development occurs by the age of five. That's before a child sets foot in a kindergarten classroom. This funding will help to close the readiness gap that currently exists - a gap that is largely based on household income. All children deserve to get off to a strong, early start in life. It’s good for California's future and it's simply the right thing to do.
Moving Closer to Universal Health Care
Health care is a right, not a privilege; for all, not the few. Governor Newsom understands that all Californians deserve true access to high-quality, affordable health care. By expanding Medi-Cal for young adults aged 19-25 regardless of their immigration status, he is moving us closer to universal health care and health for all. His plan to reinstate the individual mandate will stabilize premiums and extend subsidies to help middle class families afford medical coverage through Covered California. His push to negotiate lower prescription drug prices can bring meaningful and much-needed financial relief to millions.
Creating Free Community College
The cost of earning a college degree has become a heavy burden on an entire generation of Californians. Young people today worry about whether they’ll be able to pay for their dream of going to college without going into mountains of debt. It's unfair and unsustainable. I’m proud to be joint-authoring AB 2, which would make college more affordable and accessible. I'm pleased this effort is also a key priority for the Governor and look forward to working together to make this a reality. Not only will it help our students, it will also aid California in meeting its future workforce demands and keep our state the world's innovation leader.
Helping Build an Affordable California
We need to do more to create and realize an affordable California. The amount of income paid toward housing, and the uncertainty of future housing costs, has broad impacts on the overall quality of life for California families. More must be done to increase housing production to ease this crisis and give more Californians the opportunity to become economically secure and plan for homeownership. The Governor's budget proposes spending $1.3 billion for projects that spur housing development, including tax credits to incentivize developers to build more housing for low- and moderate-income families. I look forward to working with the Governor on housing relief efforts.
Supporting Our Homeless Neighbors
We know all too well that homelessness is a critical statewide problem. It requires a multi-pronged approach, starting with better planning for shelter access with the goal of moving individuals into permanent housing. This budget includes $500 million to build emergency shelters and navigation centers which will include onsite social services. This is a sound approach to not only provide shelter, but to address some of the related issues our homeless neighbors face.
Combatting Income Inequality: Tax Credit for Low Income Californians
I'm glad to see the Governor is focused on doubling the size of the Earned Income Tax Credit and renaming it the Working Families Tax Credit while also increasing the eligibility pool by including people with young children who work full-time and earn up to $15 an hour. If you’re working full-time, you shouldn't have to live in poverty and this proposal is a positive step in the right direction.
Increasing Mental Health for Young People: Trauma Informed Care & Early Screenings
Helping children receive treatment after they've been exposed to trauma has long been a priority for me. This budget proposes $45 million for health screenings for what are known as "adverse childhood experiences" and $60 million to increase developmental screenings to assess a child’s educational, social, and emotional development.
Expanding Parental Leave from 6 Weeks to 6 Months
Studies show that when parents have time to bond with their newborns, it greatly benefits the child's health and development. Governor Newsom's plan to expand parental leave from six weeks to six months represents a huge step in the right direction. I look forward to working with the Governor on this issue. Parental leave is absolutely essential for strengthening families and helping our children succeed in life.
Preparing for Emergencies
I applaud Governor Newsom's sound leadership and his outreach to the federal government to address our state’s wildfires challenges. These investments in firefighting equipment, forest fuel reduction, and enhanced communication will better protect Californians up and down the state.
Removing Outdated Cannabis Convictions
This budget proposal includes $13.9 million for implementing my AB 1793 which will allow many Californians to make a fresh start by having old and outdated cannabis convictions removed or reduced on their records. This funding will get the ball rolling and begin to remove barriers to housing and employment.
Enforcing Cannabis Regulations
The Governor's proposed budget allocates an additional $2.9 million for cannabis tax compliance. While it is important that California’s regulated cannabis industry is paying their taxes, it is also important to note that the marketplace is still in its infancy and the many good actors who want to comply with the law and do business the right way are being significantly undercut by the illicit market. I look forward to working with the Governor this year to prioritize enforcement funding to crack down on illicit operators and to protect legitimate tax-paying businesses.
Funding Budget Reserves and Pensions
We must make sure California is prepared for any potential economic downturns. This budget takes that solemn responsibility to heart by increasing the state's robust rainy day fund to all time high levels while continuing to pay down debts. This budget also takes critical steps to help ensure CalPERS and CalSTRS are appropriately funded and, in particular, gives additional assistance to school districts to meet their pension obligations that were created by my AB 1469 in 2014. We owe our teachers and state employees nothing less than what’s been promised to them.
This budget proposal by the Governor is the beginning phase of crafting the state's budget. The Legislature will now begin its duty to review and pass the state’s budget by June 15.
Thank you for getting involved in the process and for taking the time to share any feedback you have with me.