One of the main responsibilities of the State Legislature is producing a budget by the June 15th constitutional deadline that funds programs and, hopefully, makes smart investments in California’s future. Unfortunately, while we meet the deadline, expectations often fall short. Skewed priorities in past budgets have allowed problems to fester; many are now reaching the crisis stage. The Legislature re-convened for the second half of the 2021-2022 session January 3rd. Due to the magnitude of the problems we face, priority number one will be creating a budget that addresses our most pressing concerns.
As Assembly Minority Leader, I recently joined Assemblyman Vince Fong, Budget Committee Vice Chair, in a letter (available here), asking the Governor to fully fund public safety, including curtailing “smash and grabs” by expanding the California Highway Patrol’s Organized Retail Theft Program. We also requested more parental control of education, more funding for highway projects to eliminate traffic congestion, reducing housing costs by streamlining barriers to construction, paying down unemployment insurance debt and eliminating tax liability for businesses that received federal COVID-relief, and addressing the homelessness crisis by expanding substance use disorder and mental health treatments.
The supply chain crises, improvements and modernization for the state’s infrastructure, including water storage and conveyance, wildfire prevention and suppression, tax relief for hard-working Californians – these issues and more must be addressed in next year’s budget. Business as usual that continues to force taxpayers to spend more and get less must stop.
During the coming budget talks, I will be seeking commonsense solutions for long festering problems that have tarnished California’s reputation and forced thousands of businesses and individuals to pack up and leave. The Golden State can, and should be, Golden once again.