Budget Update: How is Your Money Being Spent?

Late last night, the Legislature approved a massive $300 billion budget, which includes $234.4 billion in general fund spending.

This budget was the result of a deal struck between Governor Newsom and Democratic leadership. My colleagues and I in the minority party were not included in the discussions and the public was given less than 24 hours to review it.

This budget includes a $9.5 billion inflation package that economists warn could increase the prices of everyday essentials that Californians rely on. 

Rather than providing immediate and long term tax relief to Californians who are being crushed by an affordability crisis due to 40-year-high inflation, the majority party approved one-time rebate checks which will be sent to most Californians beginning in late October.

Households making up to $75,000 for individuals or $150,000 for joint filers would receive $350 per taxpayer, plus an additional $350 if they have at least one dependent.

Households making up to $125,000 for single and $250,000 for joint filers would receive $250 per taxpayer and $250 if they have a dependent, and this decreases to $200 per taxpayer and $200 for a dependent if an individual makes over $250,000 or joint filers make over $500,000.

We need to do MORE to lower costs to help Californians who are living paycheck to paycheck and can’t afford to buy food, fill up their tank, or pay rent.

There needs to be structural changes that focus on lowering the cost of living. The affordability crisis in our state is real.

When Californians consistently pay more and more to Sacramento and get pennies back temporarily – that is not relief. Californians are burdened by taxes, mandates, costs, and they are fleeing the state. A one-time rebate check for up to a thousand bucks isn’t going to cut it.

Despite a record $98 billion budget surplus and motorists paying record prices at the pump, the budget plan fails to allocate any funding to reduce gas prices. It also fails to stop the July 1st gas tax increase, a promise the Governor touted in his January budget proposal. Yes, the state gas tax will increase by over $500 million tomorrow so better fill up your tank now.

Many states across the country have already suspended their gas tax, and even the White House is considering a federal gas tax holiday.

Unfortunately, the supermajority has rejected every Republican attempt to lower gas prices.

In addition to no permanent tax or inflation relief, this budget fails to include any funding for water storage or desalination, despite our state’s drought and calls for water conservation. There is also no specific plan or significant funding for wildfire prevention.

The budget does include record-breaking education funding so more money can be allocated to our children and schools. It also pays down a small portion of our unemployment debt.

It also expands abortion access to subsidize the cost of low-income or uninsured patients, including those who come from out of state, and extends health coverage and food assistance to more undocumented immigrants.

Ironically, it does suspend a portion of the diesel sales tax, lowering prices by about 23 cents per gallon, and allocates $4.2 billion for a segment of the High-Speed Rail.

Bottom line: Our budget process is broken. The framework was rushed, incomplete, and has questionable priorities.

It was passed without transparency, without accountability, and without public or full legislative input.

This is YOUR money, not Sacramento’s.

Californians are rightfully frustrated. They are paying more and getting less. State spending continues to rise, but the problems continue to get worse, and crises go unaddressed.