January 15, 2021 On Monday, Governor Gavin Newsom released his record-breaking $227 billion budget proposal for the 2021 – 2022 fiscal year. While other states are dealing with billion-dollar budget deficits, California is benefitting from massive stock market and income gains and may be constitutionally forced to put billions in rainy-day reserve accounts. The California Budget and Policy Center has released an initial overview of the Governor’s proposals, seen here. The budget makes accommodations for several areas of interest to the California Catholic Conference, including new financial commitments for housing and homelessness, and immigration services. Homelessness/Housing Governor Newsom proposes a substantial one-time spending increase to further develop a broader portfolio of housing needed to end homelessness by acquiring and rehabilitating hotels/motels and residential facilities. He has also included $5 million in his proposed budget for tenants’ assistance, while supporting extensions to the COVID-19 eviction moratorium beyond its current expiration date of January 31, 2021. Immigration The administration makes important strides to support Californians who are undocumented and have not received much if any support during COVID-19, but misses a key opportunity to improve health equity by not extending Medi-Cal to undocumented seniors. Governor Newsom’s proposal does include $75 million for immigration services via the ONE California program, $600 tax refunds for Californians who qualify for the California Earned Income Tax Credit including undocumented immigrants who pay income taxes with Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITIN), and, new this year, $5 million in one-time funding for the Rapid Response Program. This program provides critical assistance and services to immigrants during emergency situations (such as COVID-19) when federal funding is unavailable. CalWORKS During this season of COVID-19, there has been an increase in the average monthly number of cases applying for CalWORKs. Families who have experienced a job loss or drop in employment hours in the current climate are finding it harder than usual to find alternate employment. As such, the State of California has increased the 48-month term limit for CalWORKs recipients to 60 months but it is not set to take effect until May 2022. The Governor has proposed one-time funding of $46.1 million to ensure that these CalWORKs families who receive assistance during COVID continue to do so without running down their 48-month time clock. Supplemental Security Income (SSI)/State Supplemental Program (SSP) The Governor proposes to maintain SSP levels to their current amount until 2022. The federal government, which is responsible for the SSI portion, has increased its grant by 2.2 percent. Restorative Justice The virus continues to spread uncontrolled throughout California’s prison and jail system. Initial funding was set at $1.1 billion at the onset of the pandemic through the end of the current fiscal year. The Governor proposes to spend an additional $281.3 million on COVID-related activities within our criminal justice system during the upcoming year. In addition, Governor Newsom is moving forward with plans to close two state prisons over the next two years. He expects to close Deuel Vocational Institution near Tracy by Sept. 2021, and the other undetermined location is set to close in 2022.