California

Calif. lawmakers near approving budget deal with Newsom. Here’s what is in it.

California legislators are scheduled to reconvene on Monday to debate and likely approve a $236 billion budget deal struck with Gov. Gavin Newsom.

The spending package amends a placeholder budget approved by lawmakers on June 14 to ensure they met the state’s constitutional budget deadline and did not forfeit their paychecks.

Here are the highlights of the budget bill:

Direct Payments to Californians

The budget proposal includes $8.1 billion for the second round of California’s Golden State Stimulus, handing Californians earning less than $75,000 payments of anywhere from $500 to $1,100.

The bill also authorizes $1.5 billion in small business grants through the state’s COVID-19 business grant program.

Sizable spending on homelessness initiatives

The budget pitch from lawmakers includes $12 billion in funding for homeless programs spread out over the next two years, with $1 billion in direct assistance for local jurisdictions.

Lawmakers, in a budget document, said that the local support was “the first multi-year commitment made by the state.”

The state is also dedicating $80 million in American Rescue Plan funds for the next three years on legal assistance for homeowners and renters to avoid eviction and foreclosure.

Drought and Wildfires

Arguably the state’s two most-pressing crises on the horizon are left with little detail from budget negotiators.

In total, they plan on spending $4 billion on the state’s drought and wildfire prevention efforts in the coming years.

$1 billion of that sum will be dedicated for wildfire prevention and response “over multiple years.”

Newsom has already weathered attacks over his administration’s handling of wildfire prevention efforts, after a report claimed he was greatly misleading the public on the progress.

Subsequently, high-ranking Cal Fire leaders clarified that they never indicated that figures utilized by Newsom administration officials were “inaccurate.”

However, the lack of specificity on spending for wildfire prevention, especially as the season picks up, is likely to add fuel to the fire following blowback over the data report.

Meanwhile, the remaining $3 billion will be dedicated for the state’s worsening drought. Despite the pressing nature of the drought, how the funds will be parceled out is still subject to additional negotiations.

Alex Tavlian is the Executive Editor of The San Joaquin Valley Sun and Executive Director of Valley Future Foundation. You can reach Alex at alex.tavlian@sjvsun.com.