New California budget proposals could expand healthcare for all undocumented individuals

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  • Gavin Newsom
    Gavin Newsom
    Governor of California
Gov. Gavin Newsom, talks with North Monterey County Unified School District employees during a press conference at Elkhorn Elementary School in Castroville, Calif., on Wednesday, May 12, 2021.
Gov. Gavin Newsom, talks with North Monterey County Unified School District employees during a press conference at Elkhorn Elementary School in Castroville, Calif., on Wednesday, May 12, 2021.

Low-income immigrants in California could see their healthcare costs paid for in a new budget proposal for groups not currently eligible for coverage.

This week, Gov. Gavin Newsom unveiled the proposal that entailed cutting taxes while promising to pay for full-scope, Medi-Cal coverage of individuals regardless of legal status.

If it becomes a law, the proposal will eliminate Medi-Cal eligibility by age and legal status and apply to anyone who meets income requirements. Coverage would expand to roughly 700,000 more people.

Around 66% of Californians showed support for bringing healthcare coverage to undocumented individuals, according to the Public Policy Institute of California survey.

“California is poised to be, if this proposal is supported, the first state in the country to achieve universal access to healthcare,” Newsom said.

Taxpayer dollars currently contribute to paying health care costs for low-income immigrants ages 26 and younger, and there are plans to cover people age 50 and older beginning in May. All others eligible would receive coverage starting in 2024.

This would also impact undocumented individuals in Monterey County. Approximately 30% of the county’s residents are listed as "foreign born," according to the U.S. Census.

Expanding healthcare overage would cost $613.5 million in state funds for the current fiscal year and will eventually cost around $2.2 billion per year once it fully goes into effect in Jan. 2024.

California’s Medi-Cal budget is currently $132.7 billion, and it is estimated that the program would cover around 14 million people in the 2022-23 fiscal year.

In addition to his proposal, Newsom’s tax cuts would reduce revenue by more than $6.5 billion, but the state has projected a $45.7 billion surplus coming from tax collections during the pandemic.

Much of this comes from top 1% earners who paid close to 45% of income tax collections and were taxed more than lower income groups in recent years.

The state estimates it will collect more than $25 billion in capital gains taxes (selling of stocks or assets), which is more commonly accrued by the wealthier.

Newsom aims to lay down $34.6 billion in reserves.

“We have the capacity to invest in our growth engines, invest in the future, as well as make sure that we prepare for the uncertainties the future presents,” Newsom said.

When outlining his plan on where to spend the overall $286.4 budget, he pointed to homelessness, COVID-19 efforts, amplifying law enforcement efforts, and combating climate change as some of the other sectors that will be addressed financially.

Newsom also plans to give a $1,000 payment to low-income families with a child 5 or younger, totaling around $55 million and $1,000 payments to residents 25 and younger who have gone through the state’s foster care system, rounding up to around $20 million.

As far as tax cuts, much of the focus will center on cutting taxes for businesses, specifically for gas prices, which are currently the highest in the country. Current taxes stand at 51.1 cents per gallon, and Newsom aims to halt an increase that is expected in July due to inflation.

If approved by legislature, Newsom is expected to sign the final budget by June.

This article originally appeared on Salinas Californian: California unveils new spending plan for the next year

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