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    California’s New Budget

    By Assemblymember Phil Ting–

    You may have seen that the United States’ Gross Domestic Product was 2.4 percent for the second quarter this year—better than what we considered, as we crafted the 2023–24 state budget that took effect this summer. But this is only one data point to consider when looking at California’s finances. We must look at things more cautiously and assume the next few budgets will likely present some challenges.

    As Assembly Budget Chair for the last eight budgets, I’m glad to see that our years of fiscal responsibility have positioned our state well to deal with possible declining revenues. This enables us in the latest spending plan to protect the progress we’ve made in key priority areas, avoid cuts to core programs, and maintain a $38 billion reserve to safeguard against economic uncertainty in California’s new budget.

    For the LGBTQ+ community, I’m excited to see that the new state budget will help the Center for Health and Social Justice in San Francisco become a reality with $1.5 million in funding. The vision is to have a cultural institution that will host exhibitions on the history of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, social justice movements, and important modern-day issues. It will also permanently house the AIDS Memorial Quilt, which has grown to more than 50,000 panels, to ensure its conservation and protection for future generations.

    On the health front, we continue funding to keep Mpox vaccines available and the AIDS Drug Assistance Program running. The new state budget also addresses inequities in Hepatitis C Virus treatment and services by bolstering outreach, testing, and engagement that focus on underserved Californians. State funds will additionally ensure health plans go through culturally competent training, so that proficient trans-inclusive health care is provided.

    And given the national efforts limiting kids’ books and transgender rights, we want to address the unique needs of California’s LGBTQ+ students. We’ve allocated $10 million over the next three years for support centers. By having an adult to talk to and resources on campus, we can address mental health needs that could increase academic outcomes.

    Statewide, the budget touches many lives, strengthening programs and services for those who need the most help and investing in a strong future. Highlights include:

    • Housing: Continued investments to help cities address homelessness; housing funding for certain foster youth living outside the home to help them afford the rising costs of living; renewal of the first-time homebuyers ($200 million) and financing programs ($50 million) that help property owners build backyard units, or ADUs.
    • Early Childhood: Higher reimbursement rates for child care providers (pending bargaining agreement) and near elimination of fees for families that rely on subsidized child care; continued expansion of Universal Transition Kindergarten.
    • K–12 Education: 8% cost-of-living raise for public schools, maintaining historic funding levels; continuation of universal school meals; grants are still available to help with pandemic-era learning loss.
    • Higher Education: Nearly 12,000 more slots at UC and CSU; additional funding for Middle Class Scholarship program; housing grants for campuses to accommodate thousands more students.
    • Transit: $5.1 billion lifeline to address fiscal cliff many agencies were facing; keeps buses and trains running but operators also must improve safety and cleanliness.
    • Stronger Safety Net: Previous short-term grant increase of 10% for CalWORKs families made permanent, plus adds another 3.6% increase in October; 8.6% COLA for SSI/SSP recipients effective January 1, 2024; more funding for Market Match program, increasing buying power at farmers’ markets for CalFresh recipients.
    • Healthcare: Higher reimbursement rates for Medi-Cal providers to increase access to care; lower co-pays and deductibles for Covered California insurance plans.
    • Environment: Led efforts to transition to clean vehicles; coastal resiliency to protect against climate change; lead removal from schools.
    • AAPI Communities: More resources to continue the fight against Asian American/Pacific Islander hate.

    We are fortunate that the latest state budget is still improving the lives of Californians. We’ve only been able to do this through smart, responsible actions in years past.

    Phil Ting represents the 19th Assembly District, which includes the west side of San Francisco along with the communities of Broadmoor, Colma, and Daly City, as well as part of South San Francisco and San Bruno.

    Assemblymembers Phil Ting
    Published on August 10, 2023