School of Public Policy co-hosts event discussing the 2017-18 California budget

Martin Lopez/HIGHLANDER

On Tuesday, Feb. 21, UCR’s School of Public Policy (SPP) co-hosted an event with the California Budget and Policy Center entitled, “California Budget Perspective: What’s at Stake in State and Federal Budget Proposals?” beginning at 2 p.m. in HUB 269.

After a brief introduction by SPP Dean Anil Deolalikar, Executive Director at the California Budget & Policy Center Chris Hoene was the first to speak. Hoene began by explaining the timeline for budget proposals and changes. The California governor is required to propose a budget for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1, by Jan. 10 of each year. From there, the budget is released to the public in order to give them the opportunity to oppose anything on the budget, before being moved forward to the legislature from May 14 to June 15, in which they will present a revised budget plan

Hoene explained that Gov. Jerry Brown’s budget proposal “assumes federal funding levels and current federal policies stay the same in most key service areas,” since federal budget proposals still remain unknown. The budget itself predicts a $1.6 billion shortfall in total state revenue in contrast to the last fiscal year, no new investments and a continuation in building up the state’s reserves and paying down state budgetary debt. In regard to federal funding, Hoene explained how California leaders are concerned that the majority of funding sourced from the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will be rescinded. “California gets $22 billion a year just from the Obamacare expansion across two programs,” Hoene elaborated.

In the next segment of Hoene’s presentation, he addressed a few areas of the budget which have seen little to stagnant changes in recent years, namely the funding directed toward the Department for Corrections and Rehabilitation. “The total amount of money we spend on corrections in the state of California is almost $11 billion,” Hoene explained, also saying how spending levels were staying very similar despite the number of incarcerated people in the state being reduced from around 175,000 to 135,000.

“One of the few places in the governor’s budget where he continues to make some incremental investments year-in year-out has been in UC and CSU, and that continues in this proposal,” Hoene stated. “He’s making 5 percent budget increases to both of those systems, but he’s doing it contingent on a number of things he wants to see those systems do.” Examples of this including graduating students faster at CSUs and making the UC take on larger shares of its own debt.

Next, Executive Director of California Partnership Maribel Nunez, discussed the involvement of her organization in voicing the reactions of Californian community leaders toward Brown’s budget plans. Through the framework of what Nunez calls a “socio-racial-economic lens,” her statewide coalition, California Partnership, focuses on economic justice issues at the state and county levels and advocates for a budget proposal that represents the needs of California communities.

According to Nunez, the portion of the state budget provided from the federal govenrment becomes increasingly vulnerable as potential changes toward the ACA have been considered at the federal level. The ambiguity surrounding future funding provided under ACA, she says, puts at risk various health and human service organizations such as immigrant rights organizations, criminal justice organizations, service providers and clinics.

Lastly, Director at the UCR Center of Sustainable Suburban Development and Former Riverside Mayor Ron Loveridge discussed the uncertainty conjoined with the Trump administration budget and how it will affect California’s finalized budget. “Budgets are important; budgets set priorities,” Loveridge stated. “We don’t know what the Trump budget, we don’t know what the Republican budget is going to look like, what the consequences are.” Loveridge also stressed the fact that cities did not receive much federal funding, which did not help to benefit these communities as significantly.

The next SPP event will take place on Thursday, March 2 at 12:30 p.m. in INTS 1109 and is titled, “The Water/Energy/Communications Nexus; Broadband Internet for Managing Water, Energy, and Community Needs.”

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