SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KRON) – California State Senators Wednesday unveiled their financial priorities to help build the state’s post-pandemic economy.
It includes expanding access to healthcare for undocumented immigrants and attempts to cancel student debt, among many other big-ticket efforts.
“We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make transformative changes for California,” State Senate Pro Tem Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, said.
With higher than forecasted revenues and $26-billion in stimulus money from the federal government, some state Democrats have big financial hopes in their budget priorities laid out Wednesday.
Among the proposals is a $100 million effort to immediately expand state health insurance to all Californians 65 and up regardless of immigration status, and eventually extend it to all regardless of status with a phased-in approach.
The priority list also includes funding to expand access to early childhood care and education… money for first-time home buyers and a five-year, $20 billion plan to tackle homelessness with more permanent housing programs.
“Our goal is a more equitable economy that provides pathways out of poverty and expanded access to wealth so we can restore our middle class and dramatically reduce homelessness,” State Sen. Nancy Skinner, D-Oakland, said.
The lawmakers also want to minimize student debt by expanding middle-class access to scholarships, the group is also urging the Biden administration to cancel student debt up to $50,000 per student.
“This will eliminate debt for three million Californians and significantly reduce debt for almost one million more,” State Sen. John Laird, D-Santa Cruz, said.
Democrats say on top of this, they want to make a significant investment in improving state systems for agencies like the EDD and DMV, that have been plagued by persistent technology problems.
Democratic senators did not provide a total price tag on the long list of priorities. Republicans as of Wednesday were still reviewing the plan.
“There are a lot of different needs, a lot of issues we need to address. What I am not for is spending money indiscriminately to make a legislator to feel good, it has to have an effect, has to have some real meaning to the average Californian. That’s what I want to see. Press conferences are great, but taxpayers– we want to see action,” State Sen. Melissa Melendez, R-Lake Elsinore, said.
Details of the plan are still being worked out as lawmakers await California’s updated economic forecast in May — That’s also when the governor is expected to lay out his own updated priority plan.