California Gov. Gavin Newsom submitted a proposal for the 2020-21 State Budget to the state Legislature on Friday.
The $222.2 billion budget plan includes funds that will add to the state’s reserves, address parts of California’s affordability crisis and develop systems to provide housing to unsheltered individuals. The proposed budget plan will also support the state’s existing emergency preparedness programs, address the statewide teacher shortage and increase access to higher education.
The proposed plan includes $36 billion for higher education, an increase of $110 million from the previous year’s budget. This includes investments in California Community Colleges, the California State University system and the University of California system.
The UC General Fund will increase by $217 million, assuming the funds will be used to increase resident undergraduate enrollment and maintain affordability for students, according to the governor’s budget summary. According to Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín, investing in the UC system is critical to ensuring a quality education for students.
“The Governor’s proposal to increase UC Funding by 5%, along with increases to various educational institutions, is a welcome move in expanding educational options to Californians,” Arreguín said in an email. “However, the State and the UC should make sure that any increases in enrollment are matched by increases to the stock of student housing. Taking steps to reduce students’ financial impediments is key to improving access to education.”
In addition to funding general programs, the budget also includes funds that will be dedicated to specific programs including the UC San Diego Center for Public Preparedness Multi-Campus Research Initiative and graduate medical programs.
According to a statement from UC Board of Regents chair John Pérez and UC President Janet Napolitano, the proposed budget will be a crucial step in allowing the UC system to provide adequate support and education to its students.
“The governor’s spending plan is an important step toward covering the funds necessary to meet UC’s tripartite mission of delivering world-class education, conducting cutting-edge research and providing public service that benefits California and beyond,” Pérez and Napolitano said in the statement.
While the proposed budget includes funds dedicated toward operating needs, according to ASUC External Affairs Vice President Varsha Sarveshwar, it does not include an expectation to maintain current tuition rates. She added that the regents will hold a vote on whether or not to increase tuition on Jan. 22.
In its current form, the budget plan allocates $84 billion for K-12 schools and community colleges, including $900 million that will be invested in teacher training and an additional $900 million for special education programs. According to Newsom’s budget summary, the teacher training initiatives funded by the budget will increase preparedness among teachers in an effort to address shortages, particularly in special education, science and math.
Another major element of the proposed state budget is the allocation of $750 million toward the creation of a new state fund. The California Access to Housing and Services Fund will pay rent for individuals who are unhoused, support the development of more affordable housing units and stabilize board and care facilities, according to a press release from the governor’s office.
The budget also includes funds dedicated to identifying and repurposing state-owned land, including highway underpasses and certain Caltrans properties, to develop affordable housing units.
According to Berkeley City Councilmember Rigel Robinson, the proposed budget will be an important step in addressing Berkeley’s housing crisis.
“Berkeley is facing a severe housing crisis and our homelessness numbers continue to rise,” Robinson said in an email. “I am therefore deeply grateful that Governor Newsom’s budget puts a renewed focus on rental assistance.”