The California Legislature has passed a $214.8 billion budget, with the package next set to land on Gov. Gavin Newsom’s desk.
The budget includes money to give taxpayer-funded health insurance to some low-income illegal immigrants. It also authorizes $2.4 billion in spending to address the state’s housing and homelessness crisis.
While the Trump administration is still cracking down on illegal immigration, Thursday’s budget would create California the first state to provide government-funded health insurance to some illegal immigrants.
Health care for those people is part of Democrats’ plan to eventually get everyone in California covered by health insurance.
“I do think it’s a good budget,” said state Sen. Holly Mitchell, a Los Angeles Democrat and chairwoman of the Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee. “In every budget there is good and there is could be better.”
The massive bill, totaling more than 900 pages, directs tax dollars in the state’s most populous state. But lawmakers must still pass more than a dozen other bills to implement the budget. These “trailer bills” could contain important details, including implementing a monthly fee on cellphone bills to pay for upgrades to the 911 system.
The spending plan is the first under Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, who has positioned himself as resistor-in-chief to Republican President Donald Trump’s administration.
Health care for people living in the country illegally is part of Democrats’ plan to eventually get everyone in California to have health insurance. But the policy has angered Republican lawmakers, who argue it’s not fair to tax people in the country legally for not buying health insurance while making people living in the country illegally eligible for taxpayer-funded health insurance.
“I just don’t get the prioritization,” said Republican state Sen. John Moorlach of Costa Mesa, who noted he legally immigrated to the United States from the Netherlands in 1960.
The budget includes increases in public education, bringing the state spending to $12,018 for every student in K-12 public schools. It would give students studying to be teachers grants of up to $20,000 if they promise to teach subject matters impacted by the teacher shortage, including science, technology, math and engineering.
And following the states deadliest wildfire season in history, the spending plan includes $40.3 million for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection to buy 13 new fire engines and hire 131 people to operate them. It also includes $13.1 million to accept seven used C-130 air tankers from the federal government. The air tankers are free, but the state must pay to maintain and operate them.