California's Budget -- The Debate Begins

Last week, the Governor introduced his proposed budget for the coming Fiscal Year. The final budget must be approved by the Legislature no later than June 15th, and must be signed into law by June 30th. The new 2023-2024 Fiscal Year begins July 1st.

Budget bright spots include funding for mental health services, including preventing cuts for service providers for the Developmentally Disabled. The budget increases safety net services for individuals like those with autism spectrum disorders and continues funding for foster youth services through the state’s Regional Centers.

In an improvement over past budgets, most multiyear wildfire funding commitments continue, including programs to reduce the risk of wildfires and provide additional fire protection and response resources. The budget also invests in flood preparedness and response to reduce the risks of urban flooding, reinforce levees and protect the Central Valley.

The Encampment Resolution Grant Program which partners with local jurisdictions to help them clean up homeless camps and transition individuals into housing is also funded. The new Community Assistance, Recovery and Empowerment (CARE) Courts program, which allows courts to order persons into treatment, when necessary, along with programs for mental health facility construction/expansion are funded, though amounts are inadequate to address current needs.

The budget projects a deficit of $22.5 billion and operating deficits through Fiscal Years 2026-2027. Tapping the budget reserve of $35.6 billion will be avoided through temporary funding delays or fund shifts, but the budget contains no real long-term solutions for our fiscal problems.

We can do better. The Governor’s proposed budget is just a proposal and discussions will now begin. I will be seeking commonsense solutions for long festering problems that have tarnished California’s reputation and forced thousands to pack up and leave. Getting our fiscal house in order is a must if we’re going to make California the Golden State once again.