Newsom presents 2021-22 budget
Gov. Gavin Newsom at a press conference. Image from livestream

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday presented a revised state budget that leverages a historic surplus to fund his $100 billion California Comeback Plan.

The $267.8 billion budget proposal is an 18% increase from the $227.2 billion plan released in January at the peak of the coronavirus pandemic.

The plan includes billions of dollars in stimulus checks for Californians, support for small businesses, housing for the homeless, billions for infrastructure, universal pre-kindergarten and college savings accounts for millions of children.

Fueled by a resurgent economy, a surge in state revenues and additional federal recovery funds, the $75.7 billion surplus reflected in the California Comeback Plan stands in stark contrast to the $54.3 billion budget shortfall estimated just 12 months ago.

“Every Californian has been impacted by this pandemic, and the sacrifices we’ve all made this past year have resulted in a historic surplus. I’m here to announce that we’re investing it in you,” said Newsom.

“California’s economic recovery will leave nobody behind, that’s why we’re implementing the nation’s largest state tax rebate and small business relief programs in history,” he said.

Republicans, who are focused on recalling Newsom in the fall and electing one of their own, panned the Democratic Governor’s budget.

“The governor has been channeling Oprah all week — where every studio audience member gets a new car. Unfortunately in about 18 months — when the money runs out — the car will be repossessed,” said Senate Republican leader Scott Wilk of Santa Clarita. “Gavin’s ‘Recall Revision’ is a real life version of ‘Let’s Make a Deal.’ Behind door number three — the tax bill.”

Gubernatorial candidate John Cox, a businessman from Rancho Santa Fe, said Newsom should be using the surplus to cut taxes.

“Politicians have lost touch with reality when they celebrate record spending proposals and Gavin Newsom is the poster-child for out-of-touch politicians,” Cox said. 

Newsom’s California Comeback Plan includes the following key expenditures and commitments:

  • $12 billion to send $600 stimulus checks to two-thirds of Californians with an extra $500 for families
  • $4 billion in direct grants to California’s small businesses hurt by the pandemic
  • $12 billion to provide housing for 65,000 homeless people
  • Universal pre-kindergarten for California children
  • College savings accounts for 3.7 million low-income children
  • $7 billion to expand broadband Internet and reduce the digital divide
  • $11 billion in spending on roads, ports, bridges, high-speed rail and other transportation infrastructure
  •  $5.1 billion for drought mitigation and water supply investments
  • $2 billion for airplanes, helicopters and other equipment to tackle increasingly deadly wildfires

Senate President Toni Atkins of San Diego promised to “ensure this opportunity will benefit Californians” and work with the Governor on passing the budget.

“We have an opportunity to create transformative change — to build a post-pandemic economy that invests in working families and lifts up our communities, especially those struggling the most in the aftermath of the pandemic,” she said. 

Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.