2020-21 State Budget Statement
Senator Jim Beall (D-San Jose) issued the following statement on the 2020-21 state budget approved by the State Legislature:
The approved state budget is a responsible approach to a devastating public health crisis. Working to solve a $54 billion deficit, while protecting education and those who are most vulnerable, was no small feat. We will bounce back from the effects of COVID-19; however, working families are depending on us to preserve safety net programs, that are even more essential during this time. I commend Governor Newsom, Senate and Assembly Leadership, and my fellow legislators for workinga together to prioritize Californians and get this budget passed, while saving $900 million in the Safety Net Reserve.
I am most proud of my work with regard to the Extended Foster Care program. The addition of Extended Foster Care to the Budget Act of 2020 appropriates $32 million and broadens eligibility to those foster youth who would have lost their benefits in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. Protecting this vulnerable population has been part of my life’s work, and having this victory during my final year in the Senate motivates me to keep fighting for foster kids with legislation like SB 912.
Another success was the transportation regulatory relief, which gives local transportation agencies the flexibility they need to continue service and meet the needs of Californians reliant on public transportation. I also helped advocate and secure a $750 million investment to backfill county realignment funds to provide mental health, child welfare, and public safety services.
Though the budget is judicious and reflects investments to help our most vulnerable Californians endure the pandemic, we can and must do more. I am disappointed the budget fails to make investments that appropriately respond to the increasing need for mental health services due to the pandemic. Calls to the Substance Abuse and mental Health Services Administration’s disaster distress hotline increased by almost 900 percent from March 2019 to March 2020. In California alone, calls to suicide prevention lines were up 40 percent in March. These alarming statistics show that the State must make robust investments to meet the desperate need created by the pandemic. One more key issue we must address in the future is the dramatic shortfall in housing production Though we’ve made steps in the right direction, it’s far from enough. We need legislation like SB 795 to address the 1.5 million unit shortage in the State to begin to make up this considerable gap.
Key Highlights of the 2020-21 Approved Budget
Investing in Foster Youth - The approved budget allocates $32 million to transition-age foster youth including stable housing and access to support services during California’s current COVID-19 pandemic. This budget also suspends the requirements of extended foster care that may be difficult or impossible during COVID-19.
Protecting Department of Developmental Services – Successfully, the legislature was able to reject many of the draconian cuts proposed in the Governor's May Revise. This year's budget will provide over five billion dollars and provide independent living providers with rate increases that have been anticipated for many years.
Supporting Social Services- The budget protects and enhances many of the social services that are essential to millions of Californians. This budget extends the amount of time a recipient can receive CalWORKs payments from 48 to 60 months to protect many struggling Californians during the pandemic. Also, it maintains the current funding for In-Home Supportive Services and an increased CalWORKs child pass through.
Transportation – The budget adopts language proposed by Senator Beall to hold harmless transit operators whose ridership levels have been negatively impacted by COVID-19. It also eliminates financial penalties for if struggling transit agencies do not meet farebox recovery and funding efficiency measures in the Transportation Development Act and the State Transit Assistance Program.
Protecting Education - The legislature secured $8 million more than the Governor’s May proposal to ensure that our schools stay whole and keep the Prop 98 guarantee at $70.5 billion. The budget also protects the positions of teachers and other essential support staff, ensuring they will not face layoffs. The budget also rejects proposed cuts to our higher education systems.
Mental Health — The budget will invest up to $1 billion to backfill county realignment funds that will go to provide mental health services. The budget provides $750 million and will invest an additional $250 million contingent on federal funding.
Homelessness - The approved budget provides $300 million to local governments and continuums of care to continue efforts to combat homelessness, as well as $550 million in federal CARES Act funding for acquisition and rehabilitation of properties for Project Room Key. The budget also approves $500 million to cities and $1.3 billion to counties in federal CARES Act funding for homelessness, public health, public safety, and other services.
Housing - The approved budget includes a $500 million expansion of the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program and $452 million in cap and trade auction proceeds to increase infill development.