Newsom Budget Points to a Regional, Inclusive Way Forward

800 241 John Guenther

Governor Gavin Newsom speaking at the 2019 California Economic Summit in Fresno in November (Photo: David Jon/CA Fwd)­­

With his latest proposal, Governor Newsom has placed the leverage of the state budget behind many priorities of the California Economic Summit and its regional, interconnected approach to solving the state’s complex challenges.

In a state as large and diverse as California, the state budget is a big indicator of how an administration views the best way forward to govern and take on problems big and small. After Newsom released his first budget as governor last year, CA Fwd scrutinized how the surplus was being used to address “urgent needs and the root causes of our challenges.”

Long championed by the Summit, regional planning and better coordination across interests sits at the heart of the Summit’s 2020 Roadmap to Shared Prosperity and its action plans to help Californians in all of the state’s regions gain access to the Building Blocks of the California Dream. These diverse policy areas are all interrelated and inextricably linked to the well-being of people in our state.

In the latest budget proposed by Governor Newsom last week, there are encouraging signs that new solutions are matching this regional, inclusive approach and being built across the public, private, and civic sectors.

Housing and connectivity

On housing, Newsom emphasized the need to pass this year strong legislation and regulatory incentives to boost construction. The governor has said he wants to streamline California's multiple housing agencies and has committed to creating a scorecard for cities that remove regulatory barriers to housing construction.

Calling homelessness “the issue that defines our times,” Newsom asked for $1.4 billion for homeless services, $750 million of which would be designated for supportive housing, while $700 million would go to health and social services related to homelessness.

In upcoming blogs, we’ll take a deeper dive into housing and homelessness issues and how CA Fwd and the Summit aim to catalyze more regional, comprehensive solutions to these two complex and sprawling problems.

At the 2019 California Economic Summit, it was announced the Newsom administration would embark on a “Broadband for All” plan for the state to advance digital equity.

Newsom's new proposed budget introduces a plan to map the state of broadband access to show the availability, speed and affordability of high-speed Internet access in different communities.

Closing the “Digital Divide” and ensuring affordable, high-speed broadband access to all Californians has been a critical component of the California Economic Summit’s ongoing efforts in creating a more equitable, safe, and prosperous state.

The Summit network will partner with the Newsom administration to help its “Broadband for All” initiative capitalize on the established civic infrastructure of the Regional Broadband Consortia and the integration of the California Stewardship Network with California Forward to support connections among regions and communities.

Lifelong Learning

Gov. Newsom’s 2020-21 proposed budget puts a spotlight on promising collaborations between regional workforce systems, education and training institutions, and business and industry.

A specific example is the Fresno Integrated K-16 Education Collaborative, which would receive a $17-million one-time funding boost and aims to create pathways from ninth grade through college graduation, and into good-paying jobs within growing sectors in the region.

To help produce the skills required by employers and prepare students for jobs needed in their region, the budget proposal includes $83-million toward expanding apprenticeship and work-based learning programs across the state to help more Californians “earn and learn.”

Keeping with this priority of preparing Californians with the right skills to thrive, the Summit’s 2020 Roadmap includes the creation of regional talent collaboratives between training providers and employers to make sure career education is analytically based, industry-validated, and region-specific.

Regions Rise Together

One of the best new examples of inclusive and interconnected regional planning is the new Fresno DRIVE Initiative, another big topic of conversation at the recent 2019 California Economic Summit in Fresno. The $4.2 billion plan will bring public and private funding together to expand higher education, support small businesses, build affordable housing, and more.

Under Newsom’s proposal, a piece of the DRIVE Initiative, the Fresno-Merced Food Innovation Corridor, would receive $33-million to help create advanced and sustainable agriculture jobs in the San Joaquin Valley.

The proposed budget also creates new positions to be placed in four regions throughout the state to better connect regional priorities to public policy. This is an extension of the Regions Rise Together initiative, which CA Fwd launched last year with the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (Go-Biz) and the Office of Planning and Research (OPR).

The initiative, which CA Fwd will help lead in 2020, gathers input from regional leaders to understand the challenges that California's regions face, as well as assets that can be utilized for future economic growth, with the goal of lifting up successful regional initiatives taking place all across California and finding ways to take them to scale.

Ecosystem Vitality and Working Landscapes

A significant and interesting piece of the new proposed budget was a $4.75-billion climate resilience bond for consideration on the November 2020 ballot.

If approved, this bond will place a variety of Summit and triple bottom line priorities (economy, environment, equity) in front of voters, including funding of integrated regional water management projects and groundwater sustainability.

Among other efforts to address the varied impacts of climate change, this year the California Economic Summit network will work together with the California Department of Water Resources to drive successful multi-benefit flood management and groundwater recharge projects.

Prosperous Economies, Thriving Workers

The climate bond also includes $250 million for forest health projects like reforestation and watershed restoration. One of the top priorities that grew out of the Summit’s rural California projects will be amplifying the urgent need to increase the pace of these types of forest treatment, plus the development of wood products industries to reduce wildfires, strengthen forest health and landscape resilience, and revitalize rural economies by communicating the key facts and principles in the Summit’s report, “California’s Wildfire Crisis: A Call to Action.”


John Guenther

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