Gov. Gavin Newsom today unveiled a 2022-23 state budget proposal that includes universal health care for all residents regardless of immigration status, which would make California the first state in the U.S. to offer health care for all.
His self-styled “California Blueprint,” citing new estimates of a $45.7 billion budget surplus, also would increase funds for education and child care programs, doubling down on achieving universal pre-K, adding thousands of child care slots and increasing access to before-school, after-school and summer school programs.
In a budget statement, Newsom called his new budget “a bold plan building on the state’s ongoing work to confront California’s greatest existential threats, bolster our strong economic growth and make historic investments in California’s future.”
The proposed budget also includes $2.7 billion to battle COVID-19, plus millions in new initiatives to fight climate change, tackle income inequality and homelessness and fight crime.
Newsom said “the state’s economy drives a still-recovering nation,” which he said “provides a model for the entire country of how we can continue providing short-term relief while investing in longer-term solutions that will benefit workers, businesses and families for years to come.”
“With major new investments to tackle the greatest threats to our state’s future, the California Blueprint lights the path forward to continue the historic progress we’ve made on our short-term and long-term challenges, including responding to the evolving pandemic, fighting the climate crisis, taking on persistent inequality and homelessness, keeping our streets safe and more,” said Newsom in his budget statement. “As California’s robust recovery continues, we’re doubling down on our work to ensure all our communities can thrive.”
The budget allocates $34.6 billion for reserves from the projected $45.7 billion surplus, and continues to pay down long-term retirement debts.
The budget identifies major investments in five areas:
Tackling the Cost of Living
“Too many Californians find themselves on the wrong end of income inequality – crushed by the rising costs of the most basic expenses like healthcare, housing, child care, and keeping the doors of a small business open,” the budget announcement said. The budget plan seeks to bring down the costs of those everyday expenses. It would:
- Create universal access to healthcare coverage: This will make California the first state in the nation to offer universal access to healthcare coverage for all state residents, regardless of immigration status.
- Confront the cost of child care and education: The budget adds funds for free universal pre-K, adding thousands of child care slots and increasing access to before, after, and summer school programs.
- Build more housing: It adds $2 billion in new grants and housing tax credits.
- Grow small businesses: The budget invests in small businesses, promising to “cut red tape, waive fees and provide hundreds of millions in grants and tax breaks to small businesses suffering from the pandemic.”
The plan announced today “will continue to protect Californians by fighting COVID with science, with a focus on keeping our schools open and the economy moving.”
In his statement, the governor said the state will “protect frontline workers, battle misinformation, and ensure our healthcare system is prepared to handle whatever curveballs COVID-19 may throw at us in 2022.”
This includes an additional $2.7 billion to ramp up vaccines, boosters, statewide testing, and increase medical personnel to meet potential surges.
Combating the Climate Crisis
The proposed budget pledges to:
- Fight wildfires: The budget provides $648 million to support firefighters, and more helicopters and dozers, along with an additional $1.2 billion – building on last year’s $1.5 billion investment – to step-up forest management and other practices that save lives.
- Tackle the drought: On top of last year’s $5.2 billion water package, the budget includes an additional $750 million for immediate drought response to aid residents, farmers, and wildlife as California continues to grapple with a historic drought.
- Forge an “oil-free future:” The plan will decrease California’s reliance on fossil fuels while preparing our economy and workforce for a clean energy future.
“California will write the playbook for how America confronts the impacts of climate change – investing billions in climate tech research and development, clean cars, preparing Californians for career opportunities, and further readying our infrastructure to withstand extreme weather.” the governor’s statement said.
The budget plan adds $2 billion for mental health housing and services and clearing encampments, expanding on last year’s $12 billion package, creating 55,000 new housing units and treatment slots for people exiting homelessness.
Keeping Streets Safe
The budget identifies a “Real Public Safety Plan,” which focuses on three areas to fight and prevent crime:
- Bolstering law enforcement and local response to stop and apprehend criminals, including $255 million in grants to local law enforcement and creating a new “Smash and Grab Enforcement Unit” to combat organized retail crime and grants for impacted small businesses.
- Adding more prosecutors to hold perpetrators accountable, ensuring district attorneys are effectively and efficiently prosecuting criminals, and creating a new statewide team of investigators and prosecutors to go after perpetrators.
- Getting guns and drugs off the streets, creating a new statewide gun buyback program, holding the gun industry accountable with nation-leading legislation and intercepting drugs at the border.
For further information on these and other items in the California Blueprint, visit www.ebudget.ca.gov.