As we navigate the global COVID-19 pandemic, Californians are
experiencing crises that reach far beyond the immediate public
and personal health emergencies. The poorest Californians,
disproportionately people of color in the service, hospitality,
and healthcare sectors, have either lost their jobs, resulting in
a spike to unemployment unlike anything we have seen in our
lifetimes, or are risking their health performing essential
The COVID-19 crisis and subsequent economic collapse along with
the national uprising against police brutality and systemic
racism have cast a glaring light on the nature of American
inequality on the healthcare, criminal justice, and economic
fronts. It has never been clearer that as most Americans
struggle, the elite thrive.
Governor Newsom released the May Revision to the 2020-21 state budget on May 14. California began 2020 with a solid fiscal foundation. As the proposal notes, the state started the year with a “strong and diverse economy, historic reserves, and a structurally balanced budget.
The state had eliminated past budgetary debts and deferrals and was making extraordinary payments to reduce pension liabilities. In January, a budget surplus of $5.6 billion was projected for the 2020-21 fiscal year. Revenues through March were running $1.35 billion above projections.
The governor and the Legislature know the COVID-19 pandemic has
blown a huge hole in the state budget, but they can’t easily
project state revenues or the impact on Proposition 98 — the
mechanism that provides K-12 schools and community colleges about
40 percent of the state’s General Fund.
On January 10, Gov. Brown released his
proposed budget for the 2017-18 fiscal year amidst uncertainty
about how federal actions may impact California. Federal funds
currently account for more than one-third of the state budget,
and according to the California Budget & Policy Center, 7.9
percent of federal dollars currently go to K-12 education and 5.2
percent to higher education.