California to spend big on education, healthcare in $144 billion budget

11 Janvier, 2019, 17:24 | Auteur: Yves Courtet
  • Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom a Democrat addresses an election night crowd after he defeated Republican John Cox to become the 40th governor of California Tuesday Nov. 6 2018 in Los Angeles

Increased revenues have allowed California to maintain budget surpluses after the state posted huge deficits following the Great Recession beginning in 2008 forced sharp cuts in education and health care.

The new governor's budget devotes $13.6 billion of the windfall to build the state's reserves and to pay down state debt and its growing pension liability.

Newsom said such measures were meant to ensure that the state remains on sound fiscal footing to "make the California dream available to all".

With last year's approved budget of $139 billion, Brown was able to secure a $15 billion surplus in addition to the $15 billion already in the state's rainy day fund.

The budget also calls for an overall increase in health and human services spending of 8 percent over the current fiscal year, and $1 billion to double the state's earned income tax credit for low-income families.

Including bonds and special funds the total budget is $209 billion.

"I'm about to announce an interesting surplus - that will be a little more interesting than the one you've been reading about or writing about", he told reporters after announcing new wildfire prevention efforts in Colfax on Tuesday.

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The budget also includes $25 million for an immigration rapid-response program to help address the crisis on the border following the arrival of Central American migrants.

Among the budget items that Newsom has already outlined are a almost $2 billion plan to support low-income children, with much of the money earmarked for construction of childcare facilities and kindergarten classrooms. He also plans to increase funding to provide full-day preschool and kindergarten to all children.

He proposed expanding state-funded health care to low-income people living in the county illegally until the age of 26. He wants to increase subsidies for people who buy their own insurance, rather than getting it from an employer or government program.

$40 million for a second free year of community college tuition.

And he plans to propose a significant expansion of California's paid leave program, which allows new parents to receive a portion of their paycheck while away from work following the birth or adoption of a child. Newsom wants to eventually offer six months of leave to be split between the parents, though his initial budget will include a smaller step in that direction.

California now replaces a portion of wages for six weeks for new parents, and birth mothers can take an additional six weeks of disability leave. It's unclear how Newsom would pay for a full six-month program.

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