SCV lawmakers weigh in on new state budget

Sacramento, State Capitol Building
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The California Senate and Assembly on Monday approved the state’s new spending plan that rejects many of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s proposed cuts, including in public education, amid a $54.3 billion shortfall brought forth by the COVID-19 crisis. 

Despite not having the support of the governor, who has the final word on anything the Legislature sends his way, lawmakers passed the spending plan to comply with the June 15 annual deadline and in order to continue receiving paychecks. Negotiations are expected to continue before Newsom’s July 1 deadline to sign the budget. 

A month ago, the governor presented a revised version of the budget that revealed deep cuts to public schools and government services, as well as a pay reduction for all state employees. On schools, for example, the proposal included a $6.8 billion decrease in K-12 education for a total of $48 billion in the upcoming year. Newsom’s proposed cuts rely on additional federal funds he hopes the state will receive. 

Local lawmakers representing the Santa Clarita Valley detailed their opinions on the Legislature passing the state budget below: 

State Sen. Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita

Lawmakers have a moral obligation to help communities “with no strings attached,” said Wilk in a statement on Monday.  

“While the governor and the Democrat majority talk about California values, the budget harms our most vulnerable Californians including seniors, veterans, foster youth and the disability community by holding them hostage to an unaffordable tax increase. Only if there is a tax increase will these groups get the assistance they deserve,” he said. 

Assemblywoman Christy Smith, D-Santa Clarita

Smith said the budget represents “hard, consequential decisions for years to come but also reflects our values of savings and remaining clear-minded about the future.” 

“I voted for the general budget today because there are significant protections to public education, which remains most vulnerable in the COVID-19 fallout. The budget rejects a 10% cut to K-14 education, projects a per-pupil spending increase and seeks to mitigate the fiscal aftermath of school closures. When we face disastrous learning loss possibilities, we have no room to spare when saving student success outcomes,” she said on education. 

State Sen. Henry Stern, D-Calabasas 

Stern said the coronavirus pandemic struck the state budget “hard, but it hit the budgets of working families even harder.” 

“This is a painful budget, but one that was able to avoid cuts to our schools and critical services, while also not hitting middle-class families with a tax increase. For the sake of our schools, fire departments, health care providers, in-home senior care, developmental disability support professionals and everyone in California who needs support now more than ever, I hope Washington will do what’s right,” he said. 

Assemblyman Tom Lackey, R-Palmdale

Lackey said he would not stand behind a spending plan that would burden businesses more than they already have been amid the pandemic. 

“I will never vote for a structurally irresponsible state budget with a $4.4 billion tax increase on struggling businesses, accounting gimmicks and billions in borrowing. A ‘yes’ vote would only encourage this type of reckless legislating.” 

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