SACRAMENTO (KGPE) — On Friday Gov. Gavin Newsom unveiled a revised state budget proposal totaling $268 billion, $100 billion of which is set aside for recovery from the pandemic.
“This is a historic, transformational budget,” Newsom said at the presentation. “This is not a budget that plays small ball.”
According to the governor, federal stimulus combined with billions in a surplus from state taxes is going to most sectors where the state government provides funds, including direct payments to Californians, housing assistance, education, infrastructure, and millions going to help the Central Valley agricultural industry amid a serious drought.
“You see groundwater cleanup and recycling across the spectrum,” Newsom said. “Small water relief emergency grants for the short-run related to the acuity of the drought.”
Newsom proposed $5.1 billion toward water conservation in response to the drought, and according to his plan, $200 million of that will go towards fixing infrastructure in vital water delivery systems for the Central Valley like the California Aqueduct, the Friant-Kern Canal, and the Delta-Mendota Canal. Ryan Jacobson with the Fresno County Farm Bureau says fixing the canals is an investment in the ag industry’s future.
“They were designed to carry a certain amount of flow, and that flow has been reduced because of the sinking of the ground in that area,” Jacobson said. “This money will go a long way towards helping to fix those.”
Another major point in the budget is extending the state’s small business relief program to $4 billion to help applicants who are still waiting for relief.
“We want to build on that with an additional $1.5 billion that we’re proposing in this budget to take care of so many of those that are applicants that haven’t yet gotten vetted,” Newsom said.
Scott Miller, President of the Fresno Chamber of Commerce says about 80 percent of the chamber’s members qualify for this relief, and that many business owners are still waiting on their grants from the state, even weeks after applying.
“They’ll respond immediately with the fact that you’re on a wait list and then you get updated every couple of weeks,” Miller said. “Most of the people who have applied up to this point have been wait-listed.”
Newsom’s budget proposal heads to the legislature for final approval.