Senators at Odds Over Governor's 2019-20 Spending Proposals

RIVERSIDE (CNS) - Gov. Gavin Newsom's proposed 2019-20 budget announced today elicited sharply contrasting views from several Riverside County lawmakers, with one characterizing it as ``bold'' and another denouncing it as ``not prudent'' for all the new spending that the governor is seeking.

``The governor's proposed state budget does what he shared in his inaugural address -- it makes bold investments in equity and opportunity,'' said Sen. Richard Roth, D-Riverside. 

``I look forward to working with the governor and his administration to ensure inland Southern California shares in this.''Sen. Mike Morrell, R-Menifee, blanched at the ``new programs and ongoing spending'' contained in Newsom's fiscal blueprint, believing they will ``put future generations at risk'' because of ballooning state indebtedness.

``"Living in California is already unaffordable for too many, a key reason why for 15 consecutive years more residents have moved out of California than moved into our state,'' the senator said. ``Higher taxes would only add to this pressure. It is not prudent if Democrat leaders in Sacramento also tell taxpayers they have no choice but to foot the bill for their socialistic priorities to increase government control over our lives."

Newsom is proposing $144 billion in general fund commitments, and an aggregate $209 billion in appropriations -- $8 billion more than the current fiscal year's outlays -- as part of his ``building the foundation for the California Dream.''

``The California Dream -- the idea that every person can achieve a better life, regardless of where they start out -- is central to who we are as Californians,'' he said. 

The governor announced plans for an ``all-time high'' in spending to support K-12 schools and community colleges, making $80.7 billion available, equating to $5,000 more in per-pupil expenditures compared to seven years ago. To address the California State Teachers' Retirement System's unfunded pension liabilities, Newsom is seeking legislative approval for a ``one-time'' allocation of $1.1 billion, and he's seeking another $3 billion to pay down the California Public Employees' Retirement System's unfunded liabilities. 

A total $402 million is proposed to promote expanded enrollments at community colleges, as well as ``legal services for undocumented students and families, and a second year of free tuition'' for qualifying students. About $540 million is being sought to cover housing initiatives, operational costs, campus child care programs and other needs within the University of California and Cal State University systems. 

Newsom said another one-time commitment totaling $1.3 billion is needed to find solutions to the state's affordable housing shortage. The governor is seeking to implement a California-only individual health insurance mandate in answer to the U.S. Congress' elimination of that Obamacare requirement in 2017. He's proposing taxpayer subsidies for individuals with incomes up to 600 percent of the federal poverty line to help them pay for their healthcare premiums. The likely cost increases facing people who would not qualify for assistance were not identified in the budget proposal. 

The spending plan would make $214 million available specifically to enhance firefighting capabilities statewide, enabling Cal Fire to replace aging equipment. 

Newsom is additionally asking the Legislature for about $5 billion to shore up the state's Rainy Day Fund, bringing the emergency reserve to $15 billion in the current fiscal year, with the goal of boosting it to $20 billion in four years. 

By the governor's own calculations, even a ``moderate recession'' could sap $25 billion in state revenue.

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