FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday May 12, 2023
Press Contact: Sumeet Bal, Director of Communication, 917-647-1952, firstname.lastname@example.org
Governor’s May Revision Maintains Commitment to Education Equity But Lacks Robust Investments in Housing Affordability and Transit Service
Sacramento, Calif.—Today Governor Gavin Newsom released the May Revision, his updated budget proposal, amidst a growing state deficit and growing inequities for many Californians already struggling from the past few years of a pandemic and unstable economy. While largely protecting education investments and increasing accountability for equity, the governor provides scant investments to address the housing affordability crisis and avert looming cuts to vital transit service across the state.
“More must be done to support struggling families in California. We applaud the governor’s commitments to education equity but his budget fails to sufficiently address the housing crisis which affects the very same students and families,” said Public Advocates President & CEO Guillermo Mayer. “The governor and state leaders must commit to raising additional revenues to stabilize communities in the face of continued economic hardship and uncertainty. For a state with the largest GDP in the nation, too many workers, families, and seniors are barely surviving, worried about keeping a roof over their heads.”
“We are pleased to see that the K12 education budget escaped relatively unscathed from cuts from the ‘hold-steady’ January proposed budget. The governor has maintained a series of recent transformative investments in community schools, behavioral health, expanded learning after school, and universal pre-K,” said John Affeldt, Managing Attorney and Director of Education Equity at Public Advocates. At the same time, we are hearing the cries for more support for housing and other social services from students and families. We urge the administration to explore additional revenue enhancements so as to more fully serve the needs of the lowest-income Californians.”
We were also pleased to see the governor’s ongoing commitment to strengthening the equity promise of the Local Control Funding Formula with a $300 million Equity Multiplier and a greater focus on low-student performance and teacher quality disparities at school sites. In January, the governor proposed distributing the Equity Multiplier to schools with the most concentrated poverty. Public Advocates and other equity advocates have called for an even more targeted approach to ensure this investment is supporting the lowest performing students at recipient school sites, including Black and Brown and other historically disadvantaged student populations.
“We look forward to continuing to work with the administration to more effectively target the equity multiplier funds to the lowest-performing students,” Affeldt said.
Due to the uncertain economic outlook, the May Revise maintains a “watch-and-see” approach on whether to fund and implement Cal Grant Reform.
“As state leaders negotiate the final budget, we urge them to prioritize funding for Cal Grant Reform over any other state aid program expansion in order to support our state’s lowest-income students. We look forward to working with students, the governor and the legislature to make this a reality,” said Sbeydeh Viveros-Walton, Director of Higher Education at Public Advocates.
Cal Grant Reform would expand financial support to approximately 150,000 students by removing barriers to access, such as the GPA requirement for community college students, simplifying the process for students and families to apply for aid.
Because of the state’s dire affordable housing crisis, housing continues to be one of the largest costs of attending college. For many students, housing exceeds the cost of tuition. In a 2018 Student Expenses And Resource Survey, students who reported experiencing housing insecurity were most likely to be Black or Latinx, with Black students most disproportionately impacted by houselessness and Latinx students being the largest population of houseless students. Housing insecurity and homelessness are challenges that cut across all three public higher education systems—community colleges, CSU and the UC.
“We appreciate the governor’s recognition that affordable student housing should continue to be prioritized notwithstanding the current budget climate,” said Jetaun Stevens, Senior Staff Attorney, Higher Education, Education Equity Team at Public Advocates. “Housing costs continue to be a barrier for low income, Black and Latinx students trying to achieve their higher education goals.”
Housing Affordability and Renter Protections
“California is falling further and further behind on housing affordability and homelessness every day. Just as the governor has made historic investments in education, the state needs to do the same for housing and mobility. All of these issues are essential to our collective well being. Unfortunately the Governor’s May Revise takes an austerity approach to housing which will only deepen the crisis for California’s people and economy. It is particularly disappointing to see cost-effective and innovative programs like the Community Anti-displacement Preservation Program (CAPP) left out,” said Public Advocates’ Metropolitan Equity Team Managing Attorney Sam Tepperman-Gelfant. “While it is encouraging that this administration is stepping up enforcement on local governments that are not meeting their affordable housing obligations, we cannot sue our way out of this crisis. Major state investments and stronger state laws are also essential.”
Since the governor is mindful of increasing a deficit, there are a number of key policy bills in the legislature outside of the budget which will prevent further homelessness and provide sustainable long term solutions to address our current crisis at almost no cost. We call on the governor and legislative leaders to pass SB 567, the Homelessness Prevention Act, which will keep the State’s promise to protect millions of renters from arbitrary and unfair evictions.
In order for California to maintain its leadership and prevent further homelessness, we must do better in protecting renters from arbitrary evictions.
“It’s disappointing that the governor is not taking bigger measures to fight California’s worsening housing crisis,” said Michelle Pariset, Public Advocates’ Director of Legislative Affairs. “Until we address the housing issues in our communities at the scale of the problem, we will see more and more of our neighbors struggling, displaced, and pushed into homelessness. That’s why we are happy to see the Senate’s budget plan preserve and expand funding to desperately needed housing programs. We strongly urge the governor and legislative leaders to include in the final budget all of the investments laid out in our unified housing and homelessness budget letter.”
We are disappointed that the governor’s budget does not address the looming crisis facing transit agencies. For our communities to thrive, they must also be mobile. Access to frequent and reliable public transit service is critical to our frontline essential workers, students, and many other residents. But public transit in California is on the brink of collapse. As emergency federal funds run out, transit agencies desperately need state support to keep buses and trains running.
“Viable public transit is key to a host of priorities—from social equity to jobs, economic stability, climate change, and affordable housing—and an unprecedented number of transit users, operators, advocates, and workers are ready to engage in the fight to save it,” said Public Advocates Metropolitan Equity Team Managing Attorney Richard Marcantonio. “The governor’s statement welcoming a discussion on solutions is at least an acknowledgement of the devastating scale of the problem, but it comes very late. We have been bringing the issue of inadequate state support for running transit to the attention of this administration throughout the past three years. It is time now not just for rhetoric, but for action.”
We look forward to working with the administration and state leaders to strengthen investments in education, housing and transportation.
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.