California Gov. Gavin Newsom put his signature on the 2022-23 budget late Thursday afternoon, one day after it was approved by lawmakers and a day before the new fiscal year starts.
The $308 billion spending plan includes $17 billion in relief for inflation-stressed families, with tax refund checks ranging from $200 to $1,050. There is new funding for increased abortion access and health care for undocumented immigrants.
“This budget invests in our core values at a pivotal moment, safeguarding women’s right to choose, expanding health care access to all and supporting the most vulnerable among us,” Newsom said in a statement.
The budget was passed by state lawmakers late Wednesday night, ahead of their July recess. With Newsom’s signature, it goes into effect Friday.
The plan adds new strands to the state’s social safety net. California will become the first state to offer health care to all undocumented residents through a Medi-Cal expansion that will take effect by January 2024. It will cover about 700,000 immigrants ages 26-49 who had been left out of the program.
The budget includes funding to provide food assistance to undocumented immigrants 55 and older, affecting an estimated 75,000 people according to a Legislative Analyst’s Office analysis. There is $100 million to develop and manufacture low-cost insulin to increase availability in the state.
Newsom and lawmakers have also opted to prioritize abortion access following the U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade.
California will spend more than $200 million to help pay for abortion and reproductive healthcare. This includes funds to offset the cost of care for uninsured and low-income residents, as well as those traveling to California from anti-abortion states.
Among the major new initiatives is Gov. Newsom’s controversial “CARE Court,” a new civil court system to compel treatment of homeless people suffering from mental illness. The courts are part of a broader $2.2 billion approach “for encampment resolutions around the state and new bridge housing to support people going through CARE Court,” according to Newsom’s office.
The budget also appropriates $10 million to forgive court debts for traffic tickets and other infractions and also reduces a $300 late fee to a maximum of $100 instead.
A transportation measure includes $14.8 billion for infrastructure projects — as well as funding for a contentious high-speed rail line, with a priority on the segment between Merced and Bakersfield.