California lawmakers Monday sent the governor the legislature’s version of the state’s $300 billion budget, two days ahead of their constitutional deadline of June 15.
“This again is a historic budget,” Assembly Member Phil Ting, D-San Francisco said.
But the state’s spending plan isn’t finished as negotiation continues with Gov. Gavin Newson on several items. Republicans rejected it, noting the budget is incomplete.
“We can thump our chests and say we got something in on time, but can we tell the people we represent what’s in it? Probably not,” State Sen. Jim Nielsen, R-Tehama, said.
State lawmakers have spent the last several weeks figuring out how to spend taxpayer dollars that include a historic, nearly $100 billion surplus.
Democrats applauded their budget that would put a record amount of money into reserves, put $40 billion toward infrastructure, boost the state’s funding formula for public schools, plus investments in housing and transportation.
“This is about not just this generation of Californians, but the next generation of Californians,” Ting said.
But Republicans said the budget doesn’t do enough to address the state’s incoming crises including drought, extreme wildfires, strain on the electrical grid and a looming recession.
State Sen. Brian Dahle, who is running for governor, weighed in during the debate.
“The stock market is taking big hits, and we’re not going to see surpluses like this again,” Dahle, R-Bieber, said.
Another unresolved piece of the state’s financial puzzle is direct payments promised months ago to Californians in response to rising gas prices and inflation.
In a budget-related hearing Monday, the legislature planned to move ahead with sending money based on income and family size, while Newsom’s administration told lawmakers it prefers sending money based on car ownership. This has been the same debate for months.
“At this point, the administration looks forward to working with the senate and assembly to come to a final budget agreement that provides significant and immediate relief to Californians in response to rising costs now,” Erika Li, with the California Department of Finance said.
It’s still unclear when that line item will be resolved. The state’s new fiscal year starts July 1.