It’s May Revise, you know what to do + Ballot initiative campaign punts to 2024

·4 min read

Good morning and welcome to the A.M. Alert!

ALL MAY REVISE, ALL THE TIME

On Friday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom dropped a bombshell of a budget: His 2022-23 May Revision included $300.6 billion in spending, powered by a whopping $97.5 billion surplus.

Sacramento Bee reporters brought you wall-to-wall coverage of a budget announcement packed with news.

As Bee reporter Lindsey Holden reported, Newsom’s “simply without precedent” budget surplus came primarily from taxes on income gains among California’s wealthiest citizens.

“No other state in American history has ever experienced a surplus as large as this,” Newsom said.

But Newsom tempered the good news with an updated California economic forecast that had been “slightly downgraded,” as reported by The Bee’s David Lightman. That outlook is due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the ongoing supply chain crisis and, of course, sky high inflation.

Still, the budget brought welcome news to hospital and skilled nursing facility workers, as Newsom announced money for $1,000 bonuses to thank them for working through the pandemic.

As The Bee’s Cathie Anderson and Wes Venteicher reported, an estimated 600,000 health care workers would receive the payment.

Speaking of Venteicher, he also reported that Newsom’s budget called for the possible closure of up to three more state prisons in the next three years.

Recall that Newsom has already closed one state prison, Deuel Vocational Institution in Tracy, while the closure of another, California Correctional Institution in Susanville, is tied up in court.

Three years ago, California had around 120,000 inmates. The population is now around 96,600, projected to drop to 95,600 by 2025.

Newsom likely made law enforcement advocates happy as well, when he restored funding, on a one-time basis, for the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, which investigates online sexual predators. The budget includes a $5 million allocation, something Assemblyman Jim Cooper, D-Elk Grove, and Sacramento County Undersheriff Jim Barnes — both candidates for Sacramento County Sheriff — called for.

Finally, I wrote about Newsom’s proposed tax break for California marijuana growers, in the form of a zeroed-out cultivation tax. The governor also wants to shift the state’s cannabis excise tax to retailers from distributors. To make up for any revenue shortfall to youth programs funded by that cannabis tax, Newsom guaranteed to backfill any losses with general fund dollars for three years.

The news was greeted with cautious optimism by both youth advocates, who rely on cannabis tax revenue, and industry representatives.

Of course, all this is subject to legislative approval.

BALLOT INITIATIVE PUSHED TO 2024

That’s another ballot initiative battle avoided. This year, anyway.

The campaign behind the “Taxpayer Protection and Government Accountability Act” announced that they are short of thesignatures necessary to place the constitutional amendment on the 2022 ballot, but are on track to do so in 2024.

What’s the ballot initiative do? It changes the rules for how state and local governments can levy taxes and fees, requiring voter approval and two-thirds majority from both houses of the Legislature to raise state taxes.

Campaign spokesman Mike Bustamante said that the campaign has so far collected 1.2 million signatures, short of the 1.5 million required for a constitutional amendment.

“Make no mistake, this was the most popular initiative that’s out there,” Bustamante said. “We’re continuing in our effort to make sure this initiative ... will be before (voters) in 2024 to make sure their voices can be heard.”

News that the measure won’t be on the November 2022 ballot was cheered by opponents of the measure.

“Big Oil, Wall Street Banks, multi-billion dollar landlords and developers won’t find a better time for their dangerous initiative - whether it’s two, ten or twenty years from now. Limiting voters’ ability to tell local governments how they want their tax dollars spent will never be a winning strategy for deep pocketed interests - the reason their initiative has been polling at an abysmal 25% support,” said Alliance for a Better California spokesman Mike Roth in a statement. “California’s nurses, teachers and firefighters stand at the ready to defeat any attempt to enrich big corporations by draining vital services from public schools, fire and emergency response, law enforcement, public health and support for homeless residents.”

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“I think there’s a lot of folks out there that are pro-conception to birth. But they fall wholly short of being pro-life. Because if you’re pro-life, you’d support pre-natal care, you’d support Black infant health, you’d support child care and preschool. If you’re pro-life, you’d believe in science, you’d believe in climate change. If you’re pro-life, you would support home visiting. If you were pro-life, you’d actually support common sense gun safety. If you were pro-life, you would actually be expanding after school and preschool programs.”

- California Gov. Gavin Newsom, in his remarks announcing the May Revision budget.

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