California will increase its spending on public education, expand healthcare services and stash away more money than ever for an economic downturn under the state budget signed Thursday by Gov. Gavin Newsom — a plan that was stalled for two weeks over how it would address the state’s growing housing crisis.
The $214.8-billion budget is the largest in state history. The majority of its provisions take effect next week, though some new services won’t be funded until January in an effort to lower the short-term cost.
Newsom touted the budget agreement in a live event on Facebook from his Capitol office, reciting a long list of the plan’s highlights and boasting that he had followed the course set by his predecessor, former Gov. Jerry Brown.
“That tradition continues,” Newsom said.
The governor, who took office in January, was largely able to persuade Democrats in the Legislature to follow his lead and expand programs in ways that don’t necessarily commit the state to years of additional spending — ensuring what he called the budget’s “resiliency” to weather future fiscal storms. Perhaps the governor’s largest setback was his effort to impose a new tax on water users for clean water supplies in disadvantaged communities, replaced in the final budget with a plan that relies on funds earmarked for climate change programs.
The governor and Democratic legislative leaders issued only a brief statement in support of the spending plan, a quiet ending to prolonged negotiations after the Legislature agreed to the bulk of the proposal June 13.
Key to those talks was an effort to address the state’s housing and homelessness challenges. Newsom, along with Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood), agreed to divvy up $650 million among major cities, counties and regional homelessness prevention agencies, with cities taking the largest share of $275 million. The deal also prioritizes giving state housing funds to cities and counties to make it easier for developers to build. And in the most extreme cases, it would add financial penalties for local governments that violate state laws requiring them to plan for growth. Read more