BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Just a day after unveiling his multi-billion dollar budget blueprint for the upcoming fiscal year, Governor Gavin Newsom came to Kern County.

The governor’s proposed budget includes funds to fight COVID-19, homelessness, drought and wildfire management. But, it was his first-in the-nation plan to expand the state’s health care program that brought Newsom to Clinica Sierra Vista in Lamont on Tuesday.

Speaking outside the clinic, Newsom highlighted his plan to grow the state’s Medicaid program.
The expansion of the program, called Medi-Cal, would provide health care to all low-income residents regardless of immigration status.

“For decades we’ve seen inaction,” Newsom said. “Finally, we are at a point where we are moving those words.”

The plan is the final step in a series of moves the governor has made in the effort to provide health insurance to all Californians, starting in 2016 with undocumented children, before adding those up to age 26, and last year, growing to include those 50 and older.

If implemented, it would make California — the nation’s most populous state — the first in the country to supply such wide-reaching and all-encompassing health coverage.

“We believe we are strengthened as a community,” Newsom said. “We also believe that families are strengthened — particularly in a state as diverse and as large as the state of California.”

It’s all part of a more than $200 billion budget blueprint for the 2023 to 2024 fiscal year — where California is estimated to have a surplus of $45.7 billion. That’s how Newsom plans to pay for the proposed health plan — this fiscal year at least.

“California’s is well positioned to make this expansion,” he said.

That expansion will cost the state over two billion dollars annually. Meanwhile, the dollar amount in California’s budget surplus is a year-to-year question mark, and having extra cash is never guaranteed. This all invokes inquiry about how the plan would be paid for in years with less money…or none at all.

“Just shy of 10% of our workforce are undocumented,” Newsom said. “That workforce built Kern County.”