SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KRON) – California lawmakers are expecting the state’s budget surplus to reach up to $20 billion.
State Democratic lawmakers in the assembly Wednesday laid out their financial priorities with more money available than initially expected.
“Our budget situation has drastically changed,” Assm. Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, said.
Budget Chairman Phil Ting says while the assembly is still waiting on a final budget estimate for the year, lawmakers expect the state surplus to be between $15 billion to $20 billion.
That money coupled with $26 billion collected in federal stimulus makes this year a more flexible one for spending.
“We also want to make sure we’re protecting Californians. We have millions of vulnerable Californians living paycheck to paycheck, worried about evictions, homelessness jobs, and covid has just continued to exacerbate them,” Ting said.
With the extra money, lawmakers are eyeing a potential expansion of the golden state stimulus, including the possibility of making another round of direct payments to low-income Californians and potentially expanding the number of people eligible for payment.
They’re also considering providing more help for small businesses.
The proposed budget plan also includes boosts to help with a full return to in person instruction, potentially marking the end of distance learning for California public schools.
“We want to make sure schools are going to be open in the fall, we’re going to take precautions to make sure. So if we don’t do anything in the state budget on distance learning, it’s because things are going back to normal in the fall,” Ting said.
Ting says the assembly plan aligns with what state Senate Democrats called for earlier this month, including investments to tackle housing and homelessness, funds to make college more affordable and making healthcare accessible to everyone regardless of immigration status.
“We propose a full expansion for all undocumented in MediCal,” Ting said.
Like the Senate, the assembly did not include a total price tag on the proposals. California’s updated economic forecast is set to be released in May, that’s when the governor’s own budget plan is due.