SACRAMENTO — Gavin Newsom will unveil his first-ever budget proposal this morning at the Capitol — just three days after he was sworn in as the state’s 40th governor — at last putting dollar signs behind some of the soaring rhetoric that defined his campaign and inauguration.
While his predecessor, Jerry Brown, famously warned of impending economic calamity each time he took the stage for the annual budget-blueprint ritual, Newsom, 51, begins the job with a problem that most public figures would love to have: What to do with a record surplus, projected to reach $14.8 billion next year?
And that only counts the money that could be spent on almost any government program — or, theoretically, returned to Californians through tax cuts. In addition to that sizable sum, California has a separate, emergency-reserve fund which the Legislative Analyst recently estimated would grow to $14.5 billion by June 2020.
With such highly favorable numbers, expect to see an array of costly proposals today, including one sure to be watched around the country: to give families six months of paid leave after the birth of a child. Newsom is also reported to be planning on infusing the state’s child care and early education programs with an additional $1.8 billion this year, a nod toward his universal preschool campaign pledge, and offering full-time community college students a second tuition-free year at a cost of roughly $40 million.
And on Monday, shortly after his memorable swearing-in ceremony, Newsom appeared on Facebook Live to announce a wide-ranging plan related to expanded health care coverage — including the expansion of Medi-Cal eligibility to young adults younger than 26 who are undocumented. Currently, low-income children under 19 are eligible for the public health insurance program, regardless of their immigration status.
The January budget proposal is the first step of a months-long negotiation between the governor’s office and the state Legislature that culminates in mid-June. The overwhelmingly Democratic group of legislators returned to the Capitol on Monday after the holidays.
Newsom is expected to make his first budget reveal at 11 a.m. You can watch it live or stream it online at Calchannel.com.
.8 billion! How will Gavin Newsom spend California’s massive surplus?