Assembly, Senate Convene Overview Hearings on Governor’s FY 2021-22 Proposed Budget

This week, the Assembly Budget Committee and the Senate Budget & Fiscal Review Committee convened informational hearings to receive an overview of the Governor’s FY 2021-22 Proposed Budget. The Assembly convened its hearing on Monday and the Senate convened its hearing on Thursday. Both committees received a high-level presentation of proposed investments from representatives from the Department of Finance (DOF) and the Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO).

In the Assembly hearing, Assembly Budget Committee Chair Phil Ting, in opening comments, discussed the Governor’s budget proposal that was unveiled last week and applauded many of the Governor’s proposed investments in education, safety net services, and housing and homelessness. In the Senate hearing, Senate Budget & Fiscal Review Committee Chair Nancy Skinner similarly, in opening remarks, discussed the state’s current fiscal picture, recent federal fiscal relief, and Senate priorities for investments for the upcoming fiscal year.

DOF Chief Deputy Director Erika Li addressed both the Assembly and Senate committees, walking legislators through major components of the Governor’s proposed budget. Ms. Li discussed the state’s economic outlook, including pandemic-related impacts on revenues and expenditures, and the Governor’s proposed budget structure.

DOF representatives additionally presented a series of proposed immediate action items, including $2 billion to safely reopen schools, $2.4 billion for one-time $600 tax refunds to low-income residents, $575 million in small business grants, $71 million in small business fee waivers, and $2.6 billion in federal relief funds and an eviction moratorium extension. Ms. Li presented proposed investments by subject area, including heath, homelessness, higher education, and climate and environmental protection, among other areas.

Legislative Analyst Gabriel Petek additionally presented to both Assembly and Senate committees, highlighting significant investments proposed by the Newsom Administration and providing commentary for further legislative consideration.

Assembly and Senate committee members had the opportunity to ask questions of DOF and LAO presenters on the Governor’s proposed investments. Questions spanned a wide array of topics, including education funding and school reopening processes, wildfire preparedness and response, unemployment insurance, health coverage, housing and homelessness, and climate change, among others.

A significant topic for discussion was the ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic, with many legislators inquiring about the Administration’s efforts related to testing, contact tracing, industry guidance, and vaccines. Notably, Assembly Member Joaquin Arambula and Senator Richard Pan discussed the role of local health departments in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and inquired about public health investments to support continued pandemic-related activities throughout the state.

During public comment, CHEAC Executive Director Michelle Gibbons highlighted the critical role of California’s local health departments throughout the pandemic and the significant resources and funding needed by local health departments to continue their response. Specifically, a county coalition consisting of the California State Association of Counties (CSAC), Urban Counties of California (UCC), Rural County Representatives of California (RCRC), CHEAC, and HOAC seek:

  • To support LHD COVID-19 response efforts for the next six months:
    • $400 million to prioritize COVID-19 vaccine distribution and administration
    • $280 million for COVID-19 testing
    • $440 million for contact tracing, disease investigation, and supports for the most vulnerable
  • To support ongoing public health infrastructure needs:
    • $50 million ongoing General Fund for public health infrastructure and equity
    • $3.45 million General Fund for a public health infrastructure study

Additional information on the county coalition budget requests to support local health departments is available here.

Over the coming weeks, budget subcommittees in both the Assembly and Senate will begin hearings to further analyze the Governor’s proposed investments, including those proposed for immediate action in January. CHEAC will continue to keep its members apprised of relevant budget updates, and additional information on CHEAC’s engagement in the budget process can be accessed here.

A video recording of the Assembly hearing is available here. A video recording of the Senate hearing is available here.