California’s budget deficit has surged to a staggering $32 billion, according to Democrat Governor Gavin Newsom, according to a report from The Associated Press (AP).
Despite the substantial shortfall, Newsom has outlined a budget plan that refrains from significant tax hikes or drastic cuts to crucial state programs, such as public education, healthcare, and homelessness.
The governor revealed his budgetary intentions on Friday, expressing his commitment to protecting the state’s “most vulnerable” and needy while maintaining fiscal prudence.
Newsom’s budget proposal aims to reduce spending by roughly $10.6 billion, covering the remaining deficit through a mix of borrowing, deferring some expenditures, and reallocating certain costs.
“This was not an easy budget, but I hope you see we will try to do our best to hold the line and take care of the most vulnerable and most needy, but still maintain prudence,” stated the governor.
However, Newsom’s budget has drawn criticism for potentially leading to future deficits.
Projected figures suggest a $5 billion deficit next year, escalating to $14 billion by 2027.
Republican Assemblymember Vince Fong expressed his concern: “The fact that the Governor continues to overspend creating structural deficits in future years is fiscally irresponsible,” he said.
Newsom’s plan would leave California with $37.2 billion in various savings accounts, asserting that these funds could be utilized to balance future budgets.
“A progressive tax system allows us to stack away billions and billions of dollars for exactly this moment,” Newsom said.
However, predicting the state’s financial status for this year is particularly challenging due to the extension of the tax filing deadline to October following a series of severe storms.
The governor’s budget proposal includes cuts and spending deferrals of about $700 million, primarily affecting programs that assist in turning foreclosed properties into affordable housing and converting commercial buildings into residential spaces.
This move has drawn criticism from advocates like Michelle Pariset, director of legislative affairs for Public Advocates.
“Its disappointing that the governor is not taking bigger measures to fight California’s worsening housing crisis,” she said.
In addition to housing, the governor’s budget also impacts the subsidized child care program, with a proposed one-year delay on funding that would have assisted an additional 20,000 families.
This proposal has led to a backlash from Democratic lawmakers, with Speaker Anthony Rendon emphasizing the importance of improving child care rates.
Despite the proposed cuts and deferrals, Newsom’s budget plans to maintain spending in areas such as Medicaid, the government-funded health insurance program for poor and disabled people.
The governor’s budget also considers a loan of $150 million to public hospitals at risk of closure and proposes to reinstate a tax on managed care organizations, potentially generating an additional $19.5 billion in state revenue by 2026, according to AP.