Sacramento, Calif. – California is entering the next budget year with a record-smashing surplus of nearly $100 billion, Governor Gavin Newsom said Friday.
Newsom just unveiled a revised budget plan for the next fiscal year totaling just over $300 billion, the most in the state’s history and driven by increased tax revenue. The state collected $55 billion more in taxes than officials expected in January, leaving it with an estimated $97.5 billion surplus.
That means Newsom, a Democrat, has billions of dollars more to spend on new and existing initiatives as he seeks re-election in the fall. He plans additional spending to deal with the ongoing drought, to help more women in California get abortions, and to offset rising costs of food, gas and other goods due to inflation.
He would have to settle with the Democratic-led legislature on all of his proposals. He has until the end of June to finalize the budget, which will be effective from July 1.
Newsom said one of his top budget priorities is to provide inflation relief to Californians.
“People are feeling deep stress, deep anxiety,” he said.
He proposes to give a $400 check to registered car owners in the state, with a maximum of two checks per person. He said it would cost the state about $11.5 billion. Although the money would only go to car owners, Newsom said it should be considered “inflation return and relief”.
“For you, it could be a waiver to address the issue of groceries, it could be a waiver to address other cost burdens imposed on you,” he said.
However, Democratic lawmakers have a different view on how to provide relief. They only want to give $200 checks to those below a certain income level.
Meanwhile, Republicans say instead of a check, Newsom should suspend the state’s highest nation gas tax for a year. They have also asked him to increase tax credits for tenants and offer new tax credits to students.
“Senate Republicans believe there is a better way to invest in the state,” said Sen. Rosilisi Ochoa Bog, of Yucaipa.