The Newsom administration introduced about 400 new proposals in the May Revise on Friday. With a tight deadline this year and time limits on sessions due to COVID-19 protocols, lawmakers have been scrambling this week to chart all the proposals.
“It's somewhat scary to me that we have this much moving this fast,” said Republican Sen. Brian Dahle of Lassen County. He spoke at a budget subcommittee hearing that lasted more than three hours but barely had time to mention all the proposals and allow some debate. Dahle said he had never dealt with such a substantial package in his 25 years of elected office.
The Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) advised lawmakers to delay some proposals until summer and triage the top priorities.
LAO’s Brian Brown noted that CDFA’s budget proposal is more than half a billion dollars higher than the January proposal. Likewise, CalEPA is $4 billion greater—a 90% increase. The budget for the Natural Resources Agency is 60% bigger. Those agencies account for more than 100 proposals.
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“For comparison, you spent quite a bit of time earlier this year discussing the wildfire package, which was a $1 billion package,” Brown told the subcommittee. “Now with the May Revision, you have a $4 billion water package, a $3 billion ZEV package, a $1 billion climate package and another $1 billion for energy, and others as well.”
The many new proposals have no history of implementation, meaning no existing statutes can guide lawmakers in making important policy decisions. LAO also found few details in many proposals, with some requesting hundreds of millions of dollars but providing only two paragraphs of description.
LAO has also slashed expectations for the budget surplus, estimating it at about half of Gov. Gavin Newsom's $75 billion projection.