California lawmakers are ready to pass a budget, but still disagree with Governor Gavin Newsom in key areas like education and undocumented immigrant aid.
Good morning, California. It’s Monday, June 15.
Still facing unresolved differences
Today the Legislature will pass a new state budget to account for a projected $54 billion deficit caused by the pandemic. But it’s only a placeholder budget, because a few key elements are missing:
- How much revenue the state will bring in. (The tax deadline was pushed back to July 15.)
- How much aid, if any, the federal government will provide.
- Agreement from Gov. Gavin Newsom.
Today’s action allows lawmakers to keep getting paid — if they don’t pass a budget by June 15, they lose their paychecks. But it doesn’t resolve differences between Newsom and the Legislature when it comes to how the state’s massive budget hole should be plugged. Nor does it provide clarity for local governments, public schools and safety net programs desperate to know their financial fate.
- Kevin Gordon, a lobbyist representing many of the state’s public school districts: “Everybody in public education in this state is on pins and needles.”
The budget lawmakers will pass today reflects an agreement the Senate and Assembly reached earlier this month, which largely rejects Newsom’s plan to cut $14 billion from schools and safety net programs unless the federal government sends aid by July 1. Instead, the Legislature’s plan assumes the feds will send money by Oct. 1 — and if they don’t, limits cuts to $7 billion by drawing on reserves.
Newsom on Tuesday didn’t appear concerned that the feds hadn’t yet promised money.
- Newsom: “We’re not going to back away from the pressure and the energy to get more support from the federal government. … To the extent that it didn’t manifest before the budget deal, I never candidly anticipated it would. So nothing fundamentally has changed from our perspective.”
Newsom and lawmakers will likely resolve their outstanding differences by Friday, when the Assembly breaks for summer recess. Major points of contention include how much aid to provide undocumented immigrants, how to manage emergency spending on the pandemic, and what to do with Calbright, the state’s online-only community college.
- Political analyst Sherry Bebitch Jeffe: “The definition of good legislation is a compromise that is mutually repugnant to all sides. And that’s what has to happen.”
The coronavirus bottom line: As of 9 p.m. Sunday night, California had 148,855 confirmed coronavirus cases and 5,063 deaths from the virus, according to a CalMatters tracker.
Also: CalMatters regularly updates this pandemic timeline tracking the state’s daily actions. And we’re tracking the state’s coronavirus hospitalizations by county.
Other stories you should know
1. COVID-19 cases swell in nursing homes with poor track records
As coronavirus continues to ravage nursing homes — whose residents make up more than 40% of California’s COVID-19-related deaths — many are operating with significantly less oversight, CalMatters’ Jocelyn Wiener reports. To minimize the virus’ spread, state inspectors have stopped annual inspections, family members have suspended visits and complaint investigators have stopped entering facilities. Advocates say this cuts a vulnerable population off from those who protect them at a dangerous time, a problem exacerbated in nursing homes with track records of poor care like Kingston Healthcare Center in Bakersfield.
- Tony Chicotel, a staff attorney for California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform: “I can’t think of any other time like this, where all of the layers of oversight are missing. My guess is there’s lots of terrible neglect going on that is harming people to levels that are akin to the virus, but we just don’t know.”
2. Want to get your nails done, or a new tattoo? You can Friday … in some counties
Nail salons, tattoo shops and massage therapists can reopen in some counties by the end of the week, state public health officials said Friday, the same day many counties reopened gyms, bars, hotels, movie theaters, pro sports venues without fans, and more. The announcement followed two record single-day increases in coronavirus cases, though Dr. Mark Ghaly, secretary of the Health and Human Services Agency, said that’s likely due to an increase in testing.
- Ghaly: “It’s easy to just focus on the number of new cases. But I think that’s really anchored, if you’re not seeing a tremendous uptick of hospitalizations … that’s really connected at least in California’s case to an increase in testing. So I think it’s always important to kind of have that in the context.”
3. Judge blocks Newsom’s executive order for November election
In one of the first checks on Newsom’s emergency powers amid the pandemic, a California district judge on Friday temporarily suspended the governor’s executive order specifying the number of in-person voting sites counties must offer for the November election. (The ruling doesn’t affect an earlier executive order to mail a ballot to every registered voter.) To get around the judge’s order, it may be up to the Legislature, which is currently considering two bills that would codify both executive orders, CalMatters’ Ben Christopher reports.
- Assemblymen James Gallagher, a Yuba City Republican, and Kevin Kiley, a Rocklin Republican, who filed the lawsuit against Newsom: “This is a victory for separation of powers. The Governor has continued to brazenly legislate … without public input and without the deliberative process provided by the Legislature.”
- Jesse Melgar, Newsom’s press secretary: “The state will continue advancing our efforts to ensure that Californians can exercise their right to vote in a safe and accessible manner during the General Election this November.”
4. California’s largest police unions release reform agenda
California’s largest police unions on Sunday released a plan for reform that includes finding racist officers and “root[ing] those individuals out of the law enforcement profession.” Amid weeks of protests over police brutality and calls to defund city police departments, the San Jose and San Francisco Police Officers Associations and the Los Angeles Police Protective League are calling for a national database of former police officers fired for gross misconduct; a national use-of-force standard; an early warning system to identify officers who might need more training; frequent crisis intervention and de-escalation training; and a public use-of-force analysis website.
- Paul Kelly, president of the San Jose Police Officers Association: “We don’t want to be the roadblock in change. The days of unions trying to block reform and new policy are gone. We can’t continue to say the stats don’t show” a problem.
CalMatters columnist Dan Walters: A new resolution supported by most of the state Assembly could be the beginning of the end for California’s much-troubled bullet train project.
Importance of higher ed: Leaders need to invest in California’s world-class higher education institutions to hasten our state’s recovery, argue Dick Ackerman and Mel Levine, co-chairs of the California Coalition for Public Higher Education.
Preserve funding for community health navigators: They help marginalized communities access affordable health care and information about key services and programs, write Lynn Kersey of Maternal and Child Health Access and Veronica Flores of Community Health Councils.
Don’t cut reimbursements for telehealth visits: They’re a lifeline for many of California’s smaller community health centers, argues Stacy Ferreira of Clinica Sierra Vista.
Other things worth your time
Why are we at war over face masks? // The Mercury News
Mask vendor sues bank over thwarted $609 million deal with California. // CalMatters
Five Californians reflect on losing loved ones to police violence in aftermath of George Floyd’s death. // Los Angeles Times
Willie Brown: “Defund the police” is bad policy and terrible politics. // San Francisco Chronicle
City of Fort Bragg considers changing its Confederate general name and removing associated statues. // San Francisco Chronicle
Cerritos College opens California’s first housing exclusively for homeless students. // EdSource
Bay Area public schools struggle to respond to next big health crisis: feeding hungry kids. // San Francisco Chronicle
As oil prices crashed, tankers idled off California, spewing pollution for weeks. // National Geographic
See you tomorrow.
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