SACRAMENTO—Assemblymember Jim Wood provided this statement on the introduction of Governor Gavin Newsom’s first state budget for the 2019-20 fiscal year.
This budget puts people first. His emphasis on Education and Health and Human Services is inspiring and focuses on helping people, especially low- and middle-income families. He continues former Governor Brown’s cautious approach, anticipating slowing growth for the next several years, but has created a vision for California and a way to get there.
Governor Newsom’s approach to increase access to health care mirrors much of what I and my colleagues have been proposing for the past two years. Figuring out how to expand health care and contain costs has long been the goal and there are many pieces of the puzzle and a comprehensive approach is needed to get there.
His proposal to leverage California’s purchasing power to reduce costs for pharmaceuticals, expanding coverage to all who call California home and expanding health care subsidies for people who earn up to 600 percent of the federal poverty level, instead of the current limit of 400 percent, are visionary and sound proposals that we should fight for.
He highlights the debilitating impacts of untreated mental illness on families and communities and proposes aggressive investment in treatment, expanding early detection and intervention and providing significant new funding for housing and treatment for people with mental illness. He also recognizes the necessity to expand the workforce and educational programs to meet the need and is providing the resources to achieve that.
Governor Newsom’s budget reflects important support for education, whether that’s universal preschool, two years of free community college, addressing the serious hunger and housing challenges for students in higher education and increasing Cal Grants, especially for young parents with children who are trying to complete their education.
His concern for children is significant. He wants to ensure that young children can be assessed early for adverse childhood experiences and treated when appropriate, increased home visits for new mothers, and increased tax credits for families.
Wildfires have devastated this state, our communities and families. Governor Newsom is providing significant resources in proactive forest and wildland vegetation management, beyond the $1 billion I and others successfully advocated for last year, for more year-round fire crews and investments in technology, equipment and early warning systems. He also recognizes the mental health effects these wildfires have had on victims and first responders and will support expanding resources to help them.
The lack of affordable housing is a crisis and I am pleased that he is providing a vision and funds to address that. He wants local governments to join him in addressing the shortage and in return, is looking at providing local planning relief, such as relaxation of CEQA requirements, to make that happen.
Our communities have long experienced frustration with the DMV. Governor Newsom’s plan to completely restructure the department and improve the technology within DMV is much overdue. The simple changes of requiring them to accept credit cards and to open every Saturday will be a good start.
There is a lot to unpack in this budget and I look forward, as a member of the Assembly Budget Committee, to reviewing the proposals in more detail and contributing to improving the lives of all Californians and to protecting the state’s fiscal health.
Assemblymember Jim Wood (D-Santa Rosa) represents the 2nd Assembly District, which includes all of Del Norte, Trinity, Humboldt and Mendocino counties, plus northern and coastal Sonoma County, including the northern half of Santa Rosa.