California's Budget

Last week, the Governor released his “May Revise,” which is based on revenues received since January when the preliminary $291.5 billion budget proposal ($208.7 General Fund) was released. The Revise now estimates a $27 billion budget deficit, even though a report from the Legislative Analyst’s Office forecasts a much higher deficit of $55 billion.

The new budget proposal is aimed at creating a balanced budget over two years. Expanding some programs will be paused temporarily, and other savings will result from the targeted elimination of 10,000 unfilled positions. The budget seeks to reduce non-essential spending, and to eliminate bureaucratic red tape.

The administration is proposing to cut $1.3 billion from important behavioral health programs, including from youth mental health. $11 million will be cut from programs in our prisons that help treat substance abuse and reduce recidivism. $895 million will be spent electrifying school buses, while funding for school facilities, middle class scholarships, and important kindergarten programs will be cut. Unfortunately, the budget still includes funding for costly and unnecessary projects like high speed rail, which will receive $1 billion annually. Californians continue to struggle with inflation and cost of living increases, yet things will soon get worse with another gas tax increase.

As the Vice Chair of the Assembly Health Committee, I am concerned by the proposed cuts of $420 million to behavioral mental health programs across the state. Those cuts will affect our children by decreasing funding to the Children and Youth Behavioral Health Initiative.

The May Revise is just a start, which begins the process that will lead to a final budget. I am looking forward to joining my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to build on the Governor’s proposal. As always, my emphasis will remain on spending taxpayer dollars wisely. Over the coming weeks, the legislature has a responsibility to deliver a balanced, sustainable budget that maintains vital services and prioritizes critical needs.