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California lawmakers propose billions in cuts to address looming budget deficit


Mar 18, 2024


Last week, Democratic lawmakers in both the Senate and Assembly discussed their plans for closing the titanic budget deficit — either $38 billion or $73 billion, depending on who you talk to — with Senate Democrats announcing a plan to take “early action” to address the shortfall.

The proposal, by Senate President pro Tem Mike McGuire, D-North Coast, and Senate

Budget and Fiscal Review Committee Chair Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, calls for $17 billion in program cuts “and other solutions,” as well as adopts California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s proposal to use the Rainy Day Fund to help make up the difference.

According to the pro tem’s office, these actions would bring the shortfall “down to a more manageable $9 billion to $24 billion” and buy lawmakers some time to figure out how to close the remaining gap.

“The Senate’s plan to shrink the shortfall protects core programs, includes no new tax increases for Californians, makes necessary reductions, and takes a prudent approach to utilizing the Rainy Day Fund so we can be prepared for any future tough times,” said McGuire in a statement.

Wiener said in a statement that “time is truly of the essence” for action to be taken.

Newsom last week voiced his approval for the plan, saying in a statement, “The deficit we’re facing this year will require big solutions, and I appreciate the Senate’s plan to close California’s budget deficit by $17 billion. I look forward to seeing this proposal move forward quickly.”

On the Assembly side, Assembly Budget Committee Chair Jesse Gabriel, D-Encino, agreed that early action to address the shortfall “is on the table,” but said his preference “would be that we do more of our work in June,” when lawmakers have more tools available to address the deficit.

Gabriel said Newsom’s proposal to use about half of the state’s reserves “sounds about right,” and he agreed that the budget solution should include no new taxes on individuals or families. He said it was important for lawmakers to look at spending first.

At a press conference Friday, Gabriel was asked about the Legislative Analyst’s Office recommendation that the state close down five prisons and save $1 billion.

Gabriel hedged a bit on whether he supports the proposal, but said that it is one that lawmakers are looking at.

“In this type of environment, we have to consider everything,” he said.


“It’s a multi-dimensional story in the Central Valley because these districts voted against Donald Trump in 2016 and 2020 by a healthy margin. But at the state level, there is a lot of anger with Democratic management of issues in Sacramento. And so these districts tend to vote against Gavin Newsom, or at least by a weaker margin for Newsom, than they would for Biden or Clinton or a national Democrat.”

- Dave Wasserman of the Cook Political Report, discussing California’s hotly contested congressional races in an interview with The Bee.

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