Following the release of California’s 2021-22 proposed budget in January, California Gov. Gavin Newsom submitted his May Revision, detailing changes to the proposed budget primarily in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The May Revision outlines investments in several sectors including education, COVID-19 relief, public health, homelessness and climate resilience. According to a press release from Newsom’s office, the revision aims to reduce spending following a budget deficit of $54 billion last year due to the pandemic. With the proposed changes, California will have a $75.7 billion surplus, according to the revision.
“COVID-19 has caused California and economies across the country to confront a steep and unprecedented economic crisis – facing massive job losses and revenue shortfalls,” Newsom said in the press release. “We are proposing a budget to fund our most essential priorities – public health, public safety and public education – and to support workers and small businesses as we restart our economy.”
The revision proposes an expansion of Newsom’s Golden State Stimulus program, which was enacted in January to provide $600 in cash to eligible low-income residents. With the new changes, middle-class families who earn up to $75,000 will be eligible for relief.
A spokesperson from Newsom’s office added that working mothers have been “disproportionately” impacted by the pandemic, which is why the revised budget provides $500 payments to families with children. The revision also provides $1.5 billion of additional investments in the state’s small businesses.
Additionally, the May Revision proposes key investments in education, including $44.9 billion in general funds for schools and community colleges, according to the press release from Newsom’s office. The revision document includes an investment plan to address inequity gaps in the state’s K-12 education system by offering year-round education programs in low-income communities, enhancing teacher training, increasing educational staff and expanding access to nutrition.
According to a UC statement, the revision provides more than $807 million in UC investments, the largest in the UC system’s history.
“We thank Gov. Newsom for his strong commitment to UC as well as to higher education,” the UC statement reads. “We look forward to continuing to collaborate closely with Gov. Newsom and with the Legislature to secure these critical resources in support of our students, UC research and innovation, and quality health care for even more Californians.”
The revision also tackles student housing through a $4 billion investment in housing for the state’s higher education systems over the next two years. Berkeley City Councilmember Rigel Robinson noted that UC Berkeley houses the smallest proportion of students in the UC system, and he looks forward to seeing how campus benefits from the investments.
In a press release, the California Can’t Wait public health coalition criticized Newsom’s revision, alleging that there were no investments made in rebuilding local public health departments. The governor’s office responded by noting that the revision includes a $1 billion investment in COVID-19 testing, vaccination, contact tracing and other response measures as well as $3 million to assess the state’s pandemic response.
Newsom’s revision also made critical investments in affordable housing for unhoused individuals by expanding Project Homekey, formerly known as Project Roomkey. Furthermore, the revision includes funding to address climate change through sustainable agriculture, zero-emissions vehicles and environmental justice measures.
“While the state continues to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, the next few months present an opportunity to look at the lessons learned and begin to build a vision for the future public health system,” said Kate Folmar, spokesperson for the California Health and Human Services Agency, in an email. “The Administration is committed to turning lessons learned and gaps identified into actionable budget proposals to be presented as part of the January 2022 Governor’s Budget.”