BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Governor Gavin Newsom visited Bakersfield on Wednesday to receive his second COVID-19 booster shot administered by the Secretary of the California Health and Human Services Dr. Mark Ghaly.
The trip comes less than a week after the governor released his revised multi-billion dollar budget proposal for the next fiscal year, which includes a state record — the highest ever tax surplus, sitting at $97.5 billion of extra cash.
“I’m really proud we put out a budget last week, California’s 97.5 billion dollar operating surplus, unprecedented in U.S. history,” Gov. Newsom said.
But critics worry the surplus is unsustainable. The state’s non-partisan legislative analyst office warned a recession may be coming and the state’s record surplus along with Newsom’s plan on how to spend it could lead to a budget cliff.
“We think the risk of a recession has increased and that would present a whole different set of budget problems,” California Legislative Analyst Gabe Petek said.
Newsom remained optimistic about the topic while in Kern, pointing out most of the projects in the plan don’t require a continuous flow of cash.
“99% of all the May revised increments in the surplus is for one-time. It’s unprecedented that we’ve been that fiscally disciplined,” he said. “Caution and continuing to set aside more money for reserves, one-time investments and avoiding on-going commitments is the call of the day.”
The visit coming amid an on-going battle in Sacramento over how to ease the pain of sky-high prices at the pump, with the cost of gas in California hitting a record this week — over $6 a gallon on average.
“This is a moment now with gas breaking that $6 barrier, it only furthers that anxiety many people are feeling,” Gov. Newsom said.
Republicans are pushing for a suspension of the state’s gas tax, with Kern’s two GOP Congressmen David Valadao and Kevin McCarthy sending a letter to Governor earlier this month to do just that.
Instead, Newsom wants to send money directly to residents, laying out his plan to send $400 to all eligible registered vehicle owners in the state as part of a $18.1 billion inflation relief package included in the new budget proposal.
“You can eliminate the gas tax at 51 cents but there is no responsibility for the gas station to pass that along,” Gov. Newsom said.
The state has until June to approve a new budget for the upcoming fiscal year.