FY 2019-2020: The Budget Breakdown
State lawmakers approved a record $214.8 billion budget Thursday. The spending plan is ambitious on health, housing, and education – and rife with quite a few pet projects – yet more conservative in some respects than analysts may have expected.
As required by law, the bulk of the budget will go toward public education. You can read all about the plan’s education-related items at CalSchoolNews.org.
As CalMatters notes, despite plenty of bluster, the budget contains few new taxes. Instead of the 95-cent tax on residential water bills proposed by Gavin Newsom, legislators will use money generated by California's cap and trade program for clean drinking water projects in the Central Valley.
One of the most notable items in the budget is the expansion of Medi-Cal, specifically to young adults in the country illegally. It’s a national first, and one that is generating plenty of discussion and controversy.
A portion of the state’s $21.5 billion surplus – the largest in more than two decades – will be used to help pay down pension liabilities.
“The Legislature approved supplemental payments of $3 billion to the California Public Employees’ Retirement System and $1.1 billion to the California State Teachers’ Retirement System for the state’s portion of unfunded liability,” CalMatters notes.
$2.1 billion is being placed in reserves, including $1.6 billion for the rainy-day fund.
Housing and homelessness feature prominently in the latest spending plan as well – to the tune of about $2 billion. But it isn’t yet clear how or where the money will be spent. We know that local governments will receive $650 million in grants to build homeless shelters. But there are still many questions left to be determined.
The governor wants to reserve some of the money in the budget for counties while legislators are pushing for the entire amount to go to the state’s 13 largest cities or regional agencies known as “continuums of care,” which coordinate services for the homeless across the state.
”We knew that’s where the rubber was going to hit the road,” said Christopher Martin, a legislative advocate at Housing California who is monitoring the spending debate. "They’re trying to figure out who is going to get the money."
On the public safety side, local police officers will get stepped-up use-of-force training thanks to $20 million from the state. Attorney General Xavier Becerra’s Office will also receive $155,000 to implement a new and controversial state law mandating public release of police misconduct records.
Finally, in an effort to prevent another devastating wildfire season like the one California just endured, the budget allocates hundreds of millions of dollars for fire prevention efforts.
Read more about the FYI 2019-2020 budget at the Sacramento Bee.