As the constitutionally mandated June 15th deadline for passing a balanced budget nears, discussions in Sacramento about spending priorities are ramping up.
California is facing a variety of challenges. First of all, we must get the economy up and running again, and we can use our budget surplus to help bring back jobs. Through additional investments in the Small Business Grant Program, and by targeting surplus revenues to reduce unemployment insurance debt for employers, we can get people back to work.
Our streets and roads are increasingly inadequate – we have a $6.1 billion annual shortfall to maintain our highways over the next decade. California’s wet and dry cycles will continue, and we need to invest in more water storage and conveyance facilities, improve local drinking water systems and flood control projects. With wildfires an ever-present threat, we need to make investments in better vegetation management and more equipment to slow the spread of fires, reduce their severity, save lives, protect the environment and reduce property damage.
We need to invest more in healthcare, including reducing the cost of medical education, and providing more licensing options and incentives for health care workers to serve in low-income, rural and underserved areas. We need more affordable housing and we must streamline regulations to increase housing supply. We also need to ensure that law enforcement and the courts have the resources needed to enforce laws safely and equitably for all Californians. And our kids need to get back into the classroom.
These are just a few of the issues that will be addressed by the state budget. Together with members of my Caucus, I am committed to working in a bi-partisan manner to get the economy back on track, the kids back in school, to rebuilding California’s infrastructure and protecting our citizens.