Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee Holds Budget Overview Hearing

On Thursday, the Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee convened their first hearing on Governor Newsom’s FY 2019-20 Proposed Budget. Opening the hearing, Committee Chair Holly Mitchell provided brief remarks regarding the Newsom Administration’s extensive investments in education and health and human services proposals, as well as its prudent approach to paying down state liabilities and debts and funding reserves.

Vivek Viswanathan, representing the Department of Finance (DOF), provided the Budget and Fiscal Review Committee an extensive overview of the governor’s budget proposal and its policy priorities. In his remarks, Viswanathan emphasized the Newsom Administration’s focus on building fiscal strength and resiliency while still proposing bold and ambitious state programs and initiatives. Among those referenced, Viswanathan discussed the Administration’s measured approach to phasing-in more significant proposals such as paid family leave, earned income tax credit, early childhood education, and CalWORKs investments. Carolyn Chu, the Acting California Legislative Analyst, provided a brief overview of the Newsom Administration’s current budget assessment, economic forecasts, and key spending proposals detailed in the Administration’s budget.

Senators inquired about various components of the governor’s proposed investments into education, health and human services, and disaster preparedness and response, among other topics. Notable questions asked of the panelists included the Administration’s interest in expanding Medi-Cal coverage to additional undocumented residents, the impacts of the Administration’s prescription drug purchasing proposal on the 340B Drug Pricing Program, and the upcoming expiration of the managed care organization (MCO) tax.

Committee Chair Holly Mitchell indicated issues raised by committee members will be discussed in greater detail as budget subcommittees convene beginning in February and March. The next full committee hearing will occur on January 31 and will focus on emergency preparedness and response issues, particularly in light of the recent wildfires throughout the state. The agenda from Thursday’s overview hearing is available here.