California’s Governor, Gavin Newsom, announced the 2020-21 California State Budget this past week. In its introduction, Newsom explains how he believes that “…our state Budget is…a blueprint for a better quality of life and brighter future for millions of individuals striving and succeeding together—in pursuit of their own version of the California Dream.” Individually, California’s state budget accounts for the largest expenditure of any state in the Union with $222, 217 billion slated to be spent this year, a reported 2.2% increase over last year.
The largest expense for this coming year is health services, with the spending of $167.9 billion, or 32.1% of the state budget, a 13.3% increase from last year. A majority, 61.6% or $103.5 billion, of these funds goes towards California’s Medical Assistance program (Medi-Cal) that provides medical services for children and adults with limited income and resources. The next biggest allocation of funds are In-Home Supportive Services, 8.9% or $14.9 billion and 1991 and 2001 State-Local Realignment, 7% or $11.7 billion.
In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) seek to provide people with low income who are blind, disabled, and 65 years old or older with personal assistance so they can stay in their homes or continue working. The 1991 and 2001 State-Local Realignment seeks to provide funds to the different counties in California to finance programs such as Adult Protective Services and Foster Care and Child Welfare Services. In the explanation of this section of the budget, Newsom explains that some of the goals of the increase in the budget are “Extending Medi-Cal to income-eligible young adults regardless of immigration status” and “Addressing the high costs of prescription drugs.” As a whole, the budget seeks to “…address health care cost trends, strengthen California’s public option, lower prescription drug prices for all Californians, and continue progress towards universal health care.”
The next greatest expenditure by the state this year will be K-12 education, with the planned spending of $84 billion dollars or 27.7% of the budget for this year, a 1.6% increase from last year. The amount of funding that K-12 schools receive is dependant upon Proposition 98 from 1988, which states that a certain minimum percentage of the budget must be designated to go to these schools with a caveat to increase each year. According to the budget analysis for K-12 schools, “California provides academic instruction and support services to nearly six million students in grades kindergarten through twelve in more than 10,000 schools throughout the state.” Proposition 98 accounts for the spending of $12,600 per pupil this year, with other funds making that amount $17, 964, the highest per-pupil expenditure ever, according to the Governor’s summary. The increase in these funds seek to help close gaps in student achievement between different student groups and ensure that educators have the tools necessary to help their students improve their outcomes in life.
As the world moves into the new year, California has the strongest economy in the nation with a Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the total value of goods produced and services provided in a country during one year, of almost $3 trillion, securing its role as the fifth largest economy in the world. The state unemployment rate has dropped to 3.9% from 12.2% in 2009 and the annual GDP growth has increased to 3.8%, beating Texas and Florida. Though California still has room to grow and develop in some areas, there has been a steady stream of progress throughout the state. May Californians enter another decade with renewed hopes and new budgets.