$360.6 MILLION PROPOSAL FOR SAN QUENTIN PRISON
Brian Kaneda | May 26, 2023
SACRAMENTO, CA – In a remarkable rebuke, both the California State Senate and Assembly have rejected Governor Gavin Newsom’s $360.6 Million capital outlay budget proposal for the expansion and reorganization of San Quentin State Prison.
Yesterday’s decision comes after considerable advocacy from Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB) and other criminal justice reform advocates who have led opposition to the proposal. Last week, the state’s own non-partisan Legislative Analyst’s Office delivered a withering analysis of Governor Newsom’s San Quentin project, calling it “unnecessary and problematic.” Lawmakers also bristled at the proposal, dubbing the prison spending plan “insulting” and “unrealistic.”
“We applaud the legislature’s rejection of additional funds for the San Quentin project. It’s a significant victory for the people of California and an affirmation that our state should reduce prison spending,” said Amber-Rose Howard, Executive Director of CURB. “Our lawmakers have sent a clear message to Governor Newsom that spending hundreds of millions of dollars to expand a prison is not in line with our state’s values. We hope he’s listening.”
Read CURB’s statement on “reimagining” San Quentin Prison here.
In March, CURB released a Prison Closure Roadmap which outlines a comprehensive strategy for the safe and timely closure of more prisons in California. Closing California prisons could save the state billions as it confronts an estimated $32 Billion deficit.
The push to close prisons has gained momentum. Governor Newsom pledged to close two prisons in the 2020-21 state budget, and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) announced that a third state prison would close by 2025.
“Taxpayer resources would be better used towards policies and programs that prevent harm and address social issues head-on, rather than expanding prison infrastructure,” Howard continued.
Newsom’s proposal, which was intended to “transform” San Quentin into a “center for innovation focused on education, rehabilitation, and breaking cycles of crime,” has been widely criticized for its high cost and vague objectives. Critics, including people currently and formerly incarcerated at the prison, have expressed concerns about the viability and scalability of the project.
San Quentin has been locked down the past week, and currently incarcerated people accuse CDCR staff of escalating retaliation in response to the Governor’s reform efforts. “The culture of CDCR is defined by abuse and neglect, it’s endemic. What’s happening right now at San Quentin is more direct evidence as to why this is the wrong path for California,” Howard said.
The Assembly approved $20 million from the General Fund for the San Quentin project, and the Senate approved some aspects of the plan as budget trailer language. Deliberations will continue until the final state budget is enacted this June.
CURB has urged Governor Newsom to follow the legislature’s recommendations, reduce prison spending, and adopt a concrete plan to close more prisons that includes transformative investments in housing, reentry services, and community-based care.
Governor Newsom Releases Balanced Revised Budget Plan
CVV News | May 15, 2023
SACRAMENTO – Governor Gavin Newsom today released his May Revision proposal, a balanced budget plan that maintains critical investments to address our biggest challenges while preparing for continued economic uncertainty due to global economic issues. The Governor’s budget closes a projected $32 billion budget shortfall while protecting key investments in the issues that matter most to Californians, including education, health care, housing and homelessness, public safety, and climate action.
Following two years of unprecedented growth, revenues have fallen short of monthly estimates since the 2022 Budget Act was enacted last June. California has planned for this potential shortfall, with the Governor and Legislature paying down the state’s prior debts, building unprecedented reserves and prioritizing one-time investments.
“In partnership with the Legislature, we have made deep investments in California and its future – transformative efforts that will benefit generations of Californians, and that this budget will continue to guide as we navigate near-term ups and downs in revenue,” said Governor Newsom. “As we prepare for more risk and uncertainties ahead, it’s critical that we keep the state on a solid fiscal footing to protect Californians and our progress in remaking the future of our state.”
With unprecedented investments over the past two state budgets, in addition to federal funding targeting infrastructure and inflation reduction, California will invest more than $180 billion over the next several years in clean energy, roads, bridges, public transit, water storage and conveyance and expanded broadband service. These investments will create hundreds of thousands of new jobs while building the infrastructure to make our state better connected, safer and more prepared for our future.
While the May Revision does not forecast a recession, it recognizes increased risks to the budget since January that could significantly change the state’s fiscal trajectory in the near term. Taking this into account, the plan reflects $37.2 billion in total budgetary reserves, including $22.3 billion in the Budget Stabilization Account.
In addition to addressing the budget shortfall, the May Revision maintains investments in key priorities for Californians. This includes:
PROTECTING HEALTH CARE ACCESS. Following Governor Newsom’s actions to expand health care access and reduce costs, the May Revision maintains billions to continue implementing these measures – programs like CalAIM to transform Medi-Cal, extending health care to low-income Californians of all ages regardless of immigration status, making insulin more affordable through CalRx, and more.
TACKLING HOMELESSNESS. Governor Newsom has invested $15.3 billion to address homelessness – up from $500 million when he took office and more than ever before in state history. The May Revision maintains billions of dollars for aid to local governments, encampment resolution grants, and more. With this funding will come new accountability – no more status quo.
INCREASING HOUSING SUPPLY. In the last four years, California invested more to increase housing supply than ever before in state history while holding local governments accountable. The state continues to deploy a comprehensive set of strategies – improving state financing, targeting housing investments, providing technical assistance, eliminating regulations, and leveraging land use tools. The state adopted a legally binding goal that local governments must plan to build approximately 2.5 million new units by 2030, and 1 million of these units must be affordable.
CALIFORNIA’S CLIMATE COMMITMENT. California is advancing a $48 billion multi-year commitment to implement its world-leading agenda to achieve carbon neutrality by 2045, protect communities from harmful oil drilling, deliver 90% clean electricity by 2035, and more. It also proposes the development of a Climate Resilience Bond to increase and sustain investments in our climate initiatives.
KEEPING CALIFORNIANS SAFE. The May Revision sustains over $800 million in record-level public safety investments, including supports for victims’ services, officer wellness and training, non-profit security grants, efforts to combat fentanyl, and more.
UNIVERSAL TRANSITIONAL KINDERGARTEN. The May Revision continues to fully fund the first and second years of expanded eligibility for TK, creating a whole new grade.
FREE MEALS FOR EVERY STUDENT. California is investing $1.6 billion for all students, regardless of income, to access two free school meals per day – up to 12 million meals per day statewide.
Additional details on the May Revision can be found at www.ebudget.ca.gov.
Gov. Signs $308 Billion Budget: Californians to Get “Inflation Relief” Checks of Up to $1050
Edward Henderson | California Black Media: July 7, 2022
Around 23 million California residents will receive “inflation relief” checks of up to $1,050 soon. The aid is included in the new budget deal reached by state lawmakers and Gov. Gavin Newsom on Sunday, June 26th.
“California’s budget addresses the state’s most pressing needs, and prioritizes getting dollars back into the pockets of millions of Californians who are grappling with global inflation and rising prices of everything from gas to groceries,” said Newsom in a statement.
The checks are designed as tax refunds and will come from the state’s robust $97 billion budget surplus. The total state budget for the next fiscal year (2022-2023) is $308 billion.
The relief payments are based on income, tax-filing status and household size – similar to the stimulus checks sent to Americans by the federal government during the pandemic.
Single taxpayers who earn less than $75,000 a year and couples who file jointly and make less than $150,000 a year will receive $350 per taxpayer. Those with dependents will receive an additional $350 per child. For example, a couple that earns under $125,000 and has two children qualify for $350 per adult plus $350 for each additional child, up to a total check of $1,050.
Higher income Californians will receive smaller payments. Single taxpayers who make between $75,000 and $125,000 a year and couples who earn between $150,000 and $250,000 will receive $250, plus the same payment for each dependent, up to a maximum of $750 per family.
Single people who earn between $125,000 and $250,000 and couples who earn between $250,000 and $500,000 annually would receive $200 each, plus the same amount for their dependents. The maximum payment couples in that salary range will receive is $600 per family. Couples who earn above $500,000 and single taxpayers who earn above $250,000 aren’t eligible for the payments.
Checks will be sent via direct deposit or debit cards by late October.
“In the face of growing economic uncertainty, this budget invests in California’s values while further filling the state’s budget reserves and building in triggers for future state spending to ensure budget stability for years to come,” Newsom said. “In addition, California is doubling down in our response to the climate crisis – securing additional power-generating capacity for the summer, accelerating our clean energy future, expanding our ability to prepare for and respond to severe wildfires, extreme heat, and the continuing drought conditions that lie ahead.”
Other hot button issues addressed in the finalized budget include a $47 billion multi-year infrastructure and transportation package, $200 million in additional funding for reproductive health care services, and funding for education, universal preschool, children’s mental health and free school meals.
Not everyone was excited about the final negotiated version of the budget. Republicans complained
about the limited time they were given to review the package for input.
“Where is the information?” Sen. Jim Nielson (R-Yuba City) asked during the Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee’s brief hearing on Monday. “What are you afraid of?”