SACRAMENTO — Buoyed by soaring incomes amid the pandemic, California Governor Gavin Newsom on Monday proposed a budget that would pay for health care for all low-income state residents living illegally in the country, while cutting corporate taxes and halting a planned gas tax hike later this summer.
California taxpayers already pay for health care for young adults and people 50 and older living illegally in the country, provided they meet certain income requirements. Now Newsom wants California to become the first state to cover all adults living illegally in the country, a move that would eventually cost $2.2 billion a year.
“We’re doing something no other state has done,” Newsom said.
— Tania Pacheco-Werner (@taniahlthplce) January 10, 2022
Fighting “existential threats” from the state
Newsom said his $286.4 billion budget proposal tackles five of the state’s biggest problems — what his administration called “existential threats” — including the surge in the coronavirus pandemic. ; forest fires and drought exacerbated by global warming; homelessness; income inequality, including lack of health insurance for some immigrants; and public safety, including countering a recent wave of coordinated armed robberies.
The “existential” label is typically applied to climate change and the pandemic, Newsom acknowledged, but he said homelessness, rising costs of living and public safety are “naturally at the top of people’s minds.” people”.
The governor said his budget includes a surplus of $45.7 billion, which is higher than previous estimates because his administration uses a different definition of what is considered a surplus.
The proposed $2.2 billion program to help immigrants into the country illegally would not take effect until January 2024 to include “all low-income Californians, regardless of immigration status,” it said. Newsom.
The state has made great strides in reducing its uninsured population in recent years, but largest group left behind under state Medicaid program are low-income residents in the country illegally.
The state began covering immigrants 26 and younger in 2019, and those 50 and older last year.
Governor to negotiate with fellow Democrats on final budget
The governor’s budget speech kicks off months of haggling with his fellow Democrats who control the state Legislature, talks that will intensify when Newsom presents an updated spending proposal in May. .
Some progressive legislative Democrats proposed last week to create the nation in California first universal healthcare system, backed by steep tax hikes that are expected to be approved by voters. But Newsom touted his own more progressive approach.
Efforts to help businesses, fight wildfires
Among measures to mitigate rising state costs, he proposed pausing a planned increase in the state’s gasoline tax on July 1. It was one of the 10 tax incentives he touted. He also offered $45 million to promote tourism; $40 million to waive filing fees for new businesses; and $26 million to provide technical assistance to new businesses
He also proposed on Monday to spend $648 million to support wildland firefighters and buy more helicopters and bulldozers, plus another $1.2 billion on top of the current budget year’s $1.5 billion. for forest management.
Another $750 million would go to drought relief, on top of the current budget year’s $5.2 billion water package.
Also on the environmental front, he pledged to continue reducing California’s dependence on fossil fuels.
The GOP response
“On the surface, there are definitely things to like about this proposal; funding clean water, wildfire prevention and homelessness are all laudable goals,” Republican Assembly Leader Marie Waldron said in a statement. “But look at the details and you’ll see that much of that spending isn’t going to transformative projects to improve the lives of Californians, but rather to cleaning up years of Democratic mismanagement.”
Sen. Jim Nielsen, a ranking Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, said the state should spend its budget surplus on building reservoirs, increasing forest management to mitigate wildfires and supporting law enforcement.
To tackle the seemingly intractable problem of state homelessness, Newsom proposed spending $2 billion on mental health services, housing and cleaning up homeless encampments. This is on top of last year’s $12 billion package. The combination would create approximately 55,000 new housing units and treatment slots.
To help deal with California’s steadily rising cost of living, Newsom proposed “doubling down” the state’s existing plan to provide free universal pre-kindergarten; adding thousands of child care slots and bolstering before, after and summer programs.
He also offered to continue helping small businesses hit hard by the pandemic by waiving fees and offering hundreds of millions in grants and tax breaks.