After Gavin Newsom took the oath of office Monday — becoming California's 40th governor — attention in the capital is turning to the state budget, Newsom's first opportunity to officially lay out his administration's policy priorities.
As the most progressive Democrat elected to the state's highest office in decades, groups on the left have high expectations for funding on issues like child care, housing and health care.
The latter was addressed on Newsom's first day in office, when the new governor announced he will propose expanding Medi-Cal coverage to undocumented immigrants up to age 26.
But with state coffers currently flush with cash, interest groups and Democratic legislators will surely press the new governor to spend more of it on their other priorities. Traditionally powerful Sacramento groups representing business and agriculture are also hoping to have their needs addressed in Newsom's initial spending plan.
KQED reached out to a dozen different organizations to ask what they'd like to see from Newsom's first budget. Here are some of their responses:
Mike Herald, director of policy advocacy, Western Center on Law and Poverty
"Western Center on Law and Poverty would like to see Governor Newsom end deep poverty for all CalWORKS (California's public assistance program) families by increasing CalWORKS grants above 50 percent of the federal poverty level."
Ryan Jacobsen, CEO/executive director, Fresno County Farm Bureau
“The Central Valley faces many challenges over the next few years but none greater than the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA). Combined with recently adopted increases in the minimum flow requirements to the Delta and water cutbacks from over the past decade, SGMA will have devastating, community-wide impacts. We hope to see Governor Newsom propose resources towards better understanding and mitigating the impacts of SGMA as well as contributing additional finances to capital projects that actually yield water supplies. State and local investment towards SGMA compliance is needed immediately and long-term in order to soften the impending losses.”
Ted Lempert, president, Children Now
“We hope to see Governor Newsom proposes significant funding to support the whole child. In addition to his proposed investments in early care and education, we hope to see additional funding for STEM education, especially early math and science for kids-of-color and girls, which will strengthen his focus on early childhood programs and school readiness.”
Tyrone Buckley, policy director at Housing California
“We hope to see Gov. Newsom surpass previous administrations by dedicating an ongoing portion of the budget to provide stable, affordable homes for the 1.5 million low-income families over-burdened by housing costs and the 130,000 Californians experiencing homelessness on any given night, which is the foundation we need if the new administration is committed to racial, health, and economic equity.”
Jim Wunderman, president and CEO of the Bay Area Council
“We hope Governor Newsom takes a measured approach to any new spending, focusing on California’s long-term fiscal stability and making strategic investments in critical areas like housing, transportation and education. We’re extremely excited about Gov. Newsom’s announcement to invest almost $2 billion in early education and child care, two areas that can return huge dividends for our economy and quality of life. Even more effective than spending precious public dollars to address California’s biggest challenges is focusing on legislative and policy reforms that can leverage the power of the marketplace to spur investment."
Stephanie Roberson, Government Relations Director, California Nurses Association
"CNA supports funding that would restore the infrastructure of our communities, including but not limited to public education, access to safety net healthcare, and balancing a full budget. Apart from the budget, our priority for this next governor is to fully implement a Medicare for All system in the state of California. This system is the best system that can cover all residents where they can enjoy comprehensive, safe, therapeutic health care, not just more insurance."
Lenore Anderson, executive director of Californians for Safety and Justice
"Despite major progress on criminal justice reform and reducing incarceration, the prison budget has remained stubbornly high. We would like to see a reduction in state prison spending in this budget and subsequent budgets and a corollary increase in investments in mental health treatment."