California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced his $227 billion 2021-22 budget plan Friday, including using $15 billion in surging tax returns for economic relief.
The economic relief would be split four ways to provide rapid relief to individuals, families, and small businesses hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic, specifically:
- $2.4 billion for the Golden State Stimulus
- Low-income workers who were eligible to receive the Earned Income Tax Credit in 2019 and 2020 Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) filers would receive a $600 stimulus payment from the state.
- $575 million to more than double this fiscal year's funding for grants to small businesses and small non-profit cultural institutions disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.
- $70 million to provide immediate and targeted fee relief for small businesses, including personal services and restaurants.
- $2 billion targeted specifically to support and accelerate safe returns to in-person classes starting in February.
- Priority for the youngest children (transitional kindergarten through 2nd grade) and those with the greatest need first.
The budget proposal also sets aside $372 million for expenses to expedite the delivery of COVID-19 vaccinations.
This budget includes the state's highest-ever funding level for K-14 schools with $90 billion in total funding, $85.8 billion of which comes from Prop. 98 funding.
The proposal also has a $786 million increase in the general fund for the University of California (UC) and California State University (CSU) systems.
That increase comes with an expectation UC and CSU schools will focus on measurable goals to address equity gaps, further maintain online educational opportunities, and expand dual admissions and other innovative strategies that reduce time to degree completion.
Another $353 million would be invested in workforce development, the majority of which would be linking higher education and employment through apprenticeships and work-based learning opportunities, among other options.
"[I'm] just a real believer in work-based learning," Newsom said in the press conference Friday. "If you can intellectualize things, you can experience things. That's a reason why Cal Poly is one of the finest universities in the world."
After the most destructive wildfire season in the state's recorded history, the budget includes a $1 billion investment into the Wildfire and Forest Resilience Action Plan.
Key priorities of that plan are:
- $512 million to increase landscape scale resilience in forests and natural landscapes, including through prescribed burns and funding for tribes and small landowners.
- $335 million to complete at least 45-60 strategic fuel break projects each year over the next several years and grants to support local wildfire plans and projects.
- $38 million to harden and protect fire-vulnerable communities.
- $39 million to ensure predictive models and investments in wildfire resilience are based on the best available science.
- $76 million to expand economic and job opportunities through the Climate Catalyst Fund's low-interest lending program, the California Conservation Corps workforce programs, and forest management job training.