June 29, 2023
Press Contact: Sumeet Bal, Director of Communication, 917-647-1952, 

In Deficit Year Budget Deal Provides Bright Spots for Education Equity and Transit But Low Income Renters Still Await Relief

Sacramento, Calif.—This week Governor Gavin Newsom signed a $310 billion state budget for 2023, despite a $31 billion deficit. The governor and legislative leaders remained steadfast in their commitment to bolstering K-12 accountability and advancing education equity by maintaining and strengthening school funding levels. They also set aside $5.1 billion to fend off drastic cuts to vital public transit service and explore ways to sustain transit operations long term. While the budget deal includes these critical investments, it does not sufficiently address the struggles of our low income neighbors who continue to suffer from rising rents and evictions since the early days of the pandemic. These Californians urgently need stronger tenant protections embodied in legislation currently moving through the legislature to avert even higher rates of homelessness.

“At a time when the struggle for racial and economic equality is coming under intense scrutiny, we have a moral imperative to redouble California’s support for vulnerable students and neighbors—workers, families and seniors—by strengthening educational and community resources that strengthen their stability and upward mobility. We commend the governor and legislative leaders for championing the needs of students of color, foster youth, and multilingual and low-income learners, and for protecting communities from deep cuts in transit service that link residents to greater opportunity and basic needs,” said Public Advocates President & CEO Guillermo Mayer. “While there is much to celebrate in the state budget, we remain deeply concerned that the same children, families and seniors benefiting from the budget deal will continue to struggle with housing instability until bold investments in affordable housing and stronger tenant protections are put in place.”

K-12 Education
“In the face of declining revenues, we appreciate the hard work of the governor and the legislature to maintain and improve upon prior commitments to equity and accountability. We applaud the governor and legislature for maintaining the $4.1 billion commitment to transformative community schools and the billions of dollars in wrap-around whole child supports for public school students,” said John Affeldt, Managing Attorney and Education Equity Director at Public Advocates. “We also welcome the adoption of the new, ongoing $300 million Equity Multiplier grant that will serve the neediest schools with the greatest student instability, many with historically underserved Black and Brown student populations. Though we would like to have seen all of the $7.9 billion Learning Recovery Emergency Block Grant preserved–as those discretionary dollars disproportionately serve high-need students–we were relieved to see the proposed reduction reduced to $1.5 billion with a commitment to revisit a fuller restoration.”

“Beyond the key equity investments,” Affeldt added, “we applaud the governor and legislature for adopting a much-needed update to the Local Control Funding Formula, 10 years since its historic passage in 2013. Now districts will be required to double-down on implementing measures to close the gaps for their lowest-performing student groups and schools; also, for the first time, districts will have to detail school-level equity actions and demonstrate gap-closing efforts are “effective” or replace them with “new and strengthened” measures. With these improvements, the state is rededicating LCFF to closing stubborn K12 opportunity and outcome gaps through equity, transparency, local engagement and continuous improvement. At a time when our Supreme Court is actively undermining affirmative action in higher education, there is no greater calling for our public schools.”

College Affordability
“Housing costs continue to be a barrier for low income, Black and Latinx students trying to achieve their higher education goals. We appreciate the governor and legislature continuing to prioritize affordable student housing notwithstanding the current budget climate,” said Jetaun Stevens, Senior Staff Attorney, Higher Education, Education Equity Team at Public Advocates.  “We will be monitoring these affordable housing projects—which are now required to secure local bonds to fund them—and working with the colleges and state officials to remove barriers to their completion.”

Housing Affordability and Renter Protections
“Low-income workers, families and seniors are struggling. Numbers don’t lie. Evictions, which continued throughout the pandemic (despite regulations to the contrary) are now back to pre pandemic levels. A recent UCSF study—heralded as the most comprehensive research from the field—explicitly draws the connection between evictions and skyrocketing rents and homelessness. Addressing the needs of those who are currently unhoused is vital, but preventing more of our neighbors from being pushed onto the streets is foundational to solving the crisis of homelessness,” said Public Advocates’ Metropolitan Equity Team Managing Attorney Sam Tepperman-Gelfant. “Just as the governor has prioritized educational investments, the state must also prioritize affordable housing—and at the scale of the problem. We are hopeful that the governor and legislative leaders will support several critical—low cost, but very high impact— bills currently in the Assembly that are important steps in addressing homelessness prevention and supporting marginalized communities.”

“While it is encouraging that the state is looking for ways to support cost-effective and innovative programs like the Community Anti-displacement Preservation (CAPP) we cannot nickel and dime our way out of this crisis,” said Michelle Pariset, Public Advocates’ Director of Legislative Affairs. “We call on our leadership to reimagine a California where everyone can thrive and to pass stronger state policies like Senator Durazo’s Homelessness Prevention Act (SB 567) which will close the loopholes exploited by unscrupulous landlords and protect our neighbors from constant housing instability and displacement. Until our leadership recognizes that prevention is a key factor in addressing our current state’s plight we will continue to fall further and further behind on housing affordability and homelessness every day. The solutions are in front of us.”

“The budget deal is welcome news for our low-income neighbors and workers who depend on transit service to access school, work and other basic needs. We applaud the governor and legislature for providing $5.1 billion of critical transit operating funds to avert the imminent fiscal crisis faced by transit agencies,” said Public Advocates’ Metropolitan Equity Team Managing Attorney Richard Marcantonio. “However, beyond ensuring the survival of transit, we need long-term solutions to ensure that it thrives. We look forward to partnering with our state leadership to create a plan that will sustain and strengthen vital transit services for our frontline essential workers, students, and seniors.” 


Public Advocates Inc. is a nonprofit law firm and advocacy organization that challenges the systemic causes of poverty and racial discrimination by strengthening community voices in public policy and achieving tangible legal victories advancing education, housing, transportation equity, and climate justice.

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