Hello, Assembly District 78! I’m your representative Chris Ward and I want to bring you up to date on the latest from our district.
While bills are still making their way through the Legislature, I thought it would be a good time to outline the state budget process and walk you through how California’s budget gets passed each year. Deciding on the state budget is no small task, and there are several steps along the way allowing Californians to stay engaged and weigh in before funds head to their final destination.
For the first step, the Governor takes the lead. The California Constitution requires the Governor to submit a proposal for a balanced budget to the Legislature each year by January 10th. That means if the Governor’s budget exceeds the estimated state revenue generated, the Governor is required to identify sources for additional funding to ensure the proposed budget is balanced. This proposal must also be accompanied by a budget bill with itemized expenditures for each house to review.
From January to mid-May, full budget committees along with subcommittees in the state Assembly and Senate review the Governor’s proposed budget and begin to craft their versions of the annual spending plan. The Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee and the Assembly Budget Committee also assign items in the Governor’s proposal to several subcommittees based on their issue areas. For example, education spending items would go to the Education Committee to conduct hearings on. These hearings generally begin in late February and include testimony from the Governor’s staff.
Additional feedback is provided by the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office and the Department of Finance, which make recommendations for changes by April 1st. All of this feedback is taken into account by the Governor’s office, which released a revised budget proposal by May 14th. This updated proposal is called the May Revise, and it give lawmakers a clearer picture of the Governor’s budget proposal. It’s also a chance for the public to weigh in during legislative hearings on the budget.
Throughout this process, the Legislature can maintain, change or reject the Governor’s proposals. In early June, legislative leaders in both houses meet with the Governor’s office to discuss outstanding issues and formulate a final budget. Per the California Constitution, the Legislature must pass a budget bill by June 15. Once the budget is passed, the Governor then signs the budget packaged can issue line item vetoes on particular spending items. The Legislature can override those vetoes with a two-thirds vote in both the State Assembly and Senate. In July, lawmakers can pass amendments and other changes to the adopted budget package, including into the next calendar year.
In fall, we begin identifying our budget priorities for the next fiscal year, while state departments and agencies develop their budget proposals to submit to the Department of Finance for analysis –– starting the budget process all over again.
I hope you find this explainer helpful in understanding how California puts together its budget. It’s a complicated process with many people involved, but it’s necessary to ensure that your tax dollars are being spent in the most equitable and responsible way possible.
Since the last newsletter update, I introduced one of my biggest bills this year to help spur housing development and simultaneously address the climate crisis. AB 68, The Housing and Climate Solutions Act, will make it faster and easier to build more homes near jobs, schools, transit, and other amenities, while adding provisions to state law that will help protect Californians from increasingly frequent and severe wildfires and floods. Current land use policies have left unchecked sprawl that puts more Californians in harm’s way in areas with frequent and severe wildfires and floods. Pushing development into remote areas also increases climate pollution and strains infrastructure. Our housing and climate crises are intertwined, and our solutions must be too. AB 68 comes from an unprecedented and historic union of housing and environmental advocates from California YIMBY and The Nature Conservancy, who have both partnered to sponsor my bill. The Housing and Climate Solutions Act would require local governments to prioritize new housing within existing communities before allowing sprawl into critical natural and working lands that are vital resources for climate resilience. We’re expecting the bill to be heard before its first committee some time this month.
I also wanted to note that last month several of my bills moved forward in their respective committees, with some being passed with unanimous and bipartisan support. AB 223, the Transgender Youth Privacy Act, was passed in the Assembly Judiciary Committee and now heads to the Assembly Floor. AB 30 to expand the atmospheric river research program in California passed out of the Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee on a bipartisan vote. And AB 251 to study the relationship between vehicle size and fatalities passed out of the Transportation Committee.
HOLOCAUST REMEMBRANCE DAY
As part of the California Legislative Jewish Caucus, I have nominated Sandy Scheller as Assembly District 78’s Holocaust Remembrance Honoree. I recently sat down with Sandy to with her about her work keeping the memory of her mother Ruth Sax, and other holocaust survivors, alive though the curated exhibit “RUTH: Remember Us The Holocaust” and opening a new museum in San Diego County to educate and honor the memory of Holocaust survivors like her mother.
As always, I want to thank you for your support. I’m grateful to be your representative and work on these issues and more. One of the best ways to stay informed is to follow my social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagramwhere you can know in real time what developments are happening or what I’m working on every day.
And if you need assistance, please know that my district office staff is available and ready to serve or answer any questions you may have. Feel free to reach out to my district office and a staff member will connect with you as soon as possible. I wish you, your family and your neighbors all the best.