California budget boosts universities, homelessness funding
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative leaders agreed Friday to a $139 billion budget to fund California for the next year starting July 1.
It boosts money for welfare grants and tackling homelessness as well as California’s public colleges and universities. The budget also includes a proposal to audit untested sexual assault kits and create an officer-involved shooting investigations team within the state Department of Justice.
Here’s a closer look:
The compromise includes $500 million in one-time spending on emergency aid block grants to help cities and counties reduce homelessness. The grants can be used on a range of programs, including housing vouchers and shelter construction. It doubles what the governor proposed spending on the grants from surplus state revenue in May. The governor and legislative leaders also agreed to place a bond measure on the November ballot for $2 billion to house people who are homeless or at risk of losing their homes.
The California State University system will receive an additional $105 million in ongoing funding, mostly to support Cal State’s efforts to improve graduation rates. Cal State will also receive $167 million in one-time money, largely to enroll more students. The University of California system gained just $5 million in ongoing money for expanded enrollment and $177 million in one-time funds for areas including general expenses and deferred maintenance. The university systems could lose some state funding if they raise tuition.
The budget includes $7.5 million to audit how many untested sexual assault kits remain in the state and reduce the backlog.
It would create cybercrime and state officer-involved shooting investigation teams within the state Department of Justice, the second resulting from concerns over whether county prosecutors can impartially review shootings of black men by local police.
People who get cash assistance from CalWorks, the state welfare program, will see their monthly the grants rise by 10 percent starting April 1. That translates to about $71 per month for a family of three, on average. The increase is the first step in a multiyear effort to boost CalWorks grants back to their relative level before the Great Recession decimated California’s finances. Senate Democrats hope benefits will eventually boost incomes to 50 percent of the federal poverty level to ensure no children live below the level deemed “deep poverty.” Benefits now provide an income of about 34 percent of the federal poverty level.
Despite an aggressive push by Assembly Democrats, the negotiated budget does not include funding to expand health care access or reduce costs for consumers. Democratic lawmakers pushed to allow low-income adults to receive coverage from Medi-Cal, a publicly funded health program, until their 26th birthday, even if they’re living in the country illegally. They also wanted to create tax credits to offset rising costs for consumers who buy their own health coverage on the individual market. Instead, the budget funds only a task force to study single-payer health care.
Associated Press writers Don Thompson, Sophia Bollag and Jonathan J. Cooper contributed.