Anyone who even casually looks at the news in California would have the feeling that the state is rolling in money and Gov. Gavin Newsom is happily spreading it around to everyone.
That’s not far from the truth, although the news is not really good for Californians. Newsom and the legislature have battled their way through the new budget and came to an agreement on how to deal with expenses and the enormous tax windfall they have.
How much is that windfall? Hang on: $76 BILLION. Where did it come from? We’re told it’s from high taxes on the very rich, those high-income earners, in addition to federal pandemic relief dollars.
The challenge to lawmakers was how to spend all that cash. They came up with lots of places to put it. Democrat Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon was quoted in the L.A. Times that child care was the last major sticking point in the negotiations. He said it was “the No. 1 priority,” and it was resolved with the addition of 200,000 slots in child care programs across the state.
There is an additional $1 billion to be spent for early child education services. This includes a Newsom plan for an extra year of schooling – called “transitional kindergarten,” free, for all 4-year-olds. The details of this program aren’t included, and it’s estimated it will take four years for the it to roll out.
There’s also a plan in the budget to spend some $12 billion and more on homelessness. And there is $5.2 billion to cover unpaid rent and another $2 billion to cover overdue water and electricity bills. Another area of the budget includes some $4 billion for hard-hit small businesses.
Also in the budget is $8 billion in tax rebates for Californians with adjusted incomes of $75,000 or less. The plan is for these to be onetime payments of $500 and $1,000. These are called “a second round of Golden State Stimulus Checks” for lower-income residents.
Another area of impact, and one that’s considered a legislative victory – read that Democratic victory – is the expansion of Medi-Cal. That’s the state program for health care for low-income residents.
One aspect of this deals with illegal immigrants. Note that the plan covers “residents,” and that includes anyone who is in the state, regardless of immigration status. So any illegal alien over the age of 50 will get free health insurance at a cost to taxpayers of at least $1.3 billion a year.
It’s reported that younger illegal immigrants are already enrolled in Medicaid, SNAP and other federally funded programs. The Medicaid aspect of that program was estimated to cost taxpayers $98 million a year. As you can see, that’s changed!
Newsom approves the plan and sees it as another move toward universal coverage for everyone in the state, something he wants regardless of immigration status. No price tag yet.
But not everyone likes it. Republican State Sen. Jim Nielson was quoted in Just the News, saying, “Individuals who are illegally in California now will receive health benefits equal to a citizen of California. All they had to do is just simply be here – legal status or not makes no difference.”
He argues further that the expansion is at the expense of legal Californians and inflates the budget into the future.
Another change in the budget that makes it easier for anyone to get health coverage is the elimination of the asset test. Prior to this year, people applying for Medicaid had to prove they were financially eligible for the program.
Prior to this year, Medicaid recipients could no have assets exceeding $2,000 for a single person or $3,000 for a couple.
The removal of the test means some 17,802 additional people can enroll in Medicaid, which, according to the State Department of Health Care Services, will cost the state an additional $220 million a year.
One reason for all this showering of money on just about every person in California is that Gov. Newsom faces a recall election. California voters who just look at the headlines and not at the ramifications of this largesse may think that the governor has been such a good political leader, he needs to be kept in office.
What they are not seeing is that the state has lost nearly 3 million jobs. The unemployment rate is 7.9% – twice what it was before the shutdown. The overall growth is second-lowest of any state.
On top of that, California has increased the gasoline tax, which means residents re paying the highest tax in the country. On gas station in San Francisco is reported to have gas at $6 a gallon!
And for Californians who are dependent on their motor vehicles, it’s important to know that Newsom issued an executive order that internal combustion vehicles – read that gasoline-burning vehicles – be phased out in the state by 2035.
After that, it’s electric or nothing.
Environmentalists call that a “courageous stand.”
Sane people call that crazy. But that’s California.
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