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Gov. Gavin Newsom and top Democrats are deciding California’s budget behind closed doors

“There is a shared set of priorities,” Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel, an Encino Democrat who leads the Assembly budget committee, told reporters after the vote. “It’s more about what the most effective solutions are, what programs and services we think are the best way forward versus others.”

His counterpart on the Senate Budget Committee — Sen. Scott Wiener, a San Francisco Democrat — did not respond to an interview request.

Newsom last month laid out a plan to address what he estimates is a remaining $56 billion funding gap over the next two years, including creating reserve accounts, deferring school funding, eliminating government jobs and cutting or deferring money for infrastructure , healthcare and climate. programs.

Assembly Speaker Robert Rivas talks to reporters at the Capitol in Sacramento on April 11, 2024, after the Assembly approved a measure to reduce the state budget deficit. (Rich Pedroncelli/AP Photo)

Democratic leaders in parliament, where the party has a supermajority in both chambers, came up with a counterproposal a few weeks later. One of the key discrepancies is the push for more substantial cuts in prison funding to reverse some of Newsom’s proposed cuts to scholarships for middle-income students, public health programs, subsidized child care and housing construction.

The governor and Legislature must also decide whether to reallocate the billions of dollars earmarked for increasing payments to health care providers who treat lower-income patients, as Newsom has suggested, and whether to approve minimum wage increases for health care workers will delay even further. could potentially save the state billions of dollars, but faces strong opposition from unions.

Gabriel defended the process as “exceptionally transparent,” citing dozens of legislative budget hearings in which he said “there has been a very public vetting of these issues” and “opportunities for Californians to voice their opinions.” He said he didn’t think the eventual solutions would come as a surprise.