Senate Democrats introduced a $13 billion package of measures that would provide money for street and bridge repair, urban parks, transit systems, trade corridors, water infrastructure and affordable housing.
Senator Toni Atkins is hoping a revamped affordable housing measure - similar to one that failed last session - will garner the support it needs to pass. She says too many Californians are spending more than a third of their income on housing.
“When you look at working Californians and lower-income individuals, it’s very hard to have an affordable place to live. So it’s definitely a crisis in California,” says Atkins.
The bill provides a permanent funding source through a $75 fee on real estate transaction documents like deeds of trust. The fee is capped at $225 per parcel. It doesn’t apply to the sale of commercial or residential real estate.
Atkins says she thinks it could generate between $200 to $500 million for affordable housing annually. Half of the fees collected go directly to local governments.
The legislative package also proposes a $3 billion statewide housing general obligation bond. It would fund existing and successful affordable housing programs in order to address the shortage of housing stock.
Assembly Democrats Set Budget Priorities
Meanwhile, Assembly Democrats are setting their budget priorities for the next few years, and they range from full-day kindergarten to debt-free college.
Assembly Budget Chair Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) acknowledges those goals may need to be scaled back if President-elect Trump and the Republican Congress reduce California's federal funding. But for now, it's full speed ahead.
“I know that there have been concerns about impending doom and catastrophe,“ Ting told reporters Tuesday at the state Capitol. “Well, I don't change my commute over the Golden Gate Bridge, over the Bay Bridge, in anticipation of the next earthquake. I don't think we should change our budget process in anticipation of what may come from Washington.“
Legislative Democrats believe the state can begin to phase in an additional $1 billion in spending over the coming years while continuing to build reserves.
Gov. Jerry Brown's Department of Finance says the state faces great uncertainties in the coming years. Spokesman H.D. Palmer says the governor is being cautious as he puts the finishing touches on his January budget proposal this week.
-- Ben Adler, Capital Public Radio