May 10, 2024
Press Contact: Sumeet Bal, Director of Communications, 917-647-1952,

Governor’s May Revision Protects Social Services, But Fails to Address Scale of Housing Crisis

Sacramento, Calif.—Today Governor Gavin Newsom released his “May Revision” of the January draft budget proposal amidst an estimated $44.9 billion deficit. In the fifth largest global economy, too many Californians are still struggling while the economic divide widens and racial disparities persist. As state leadership continues to address the budget shortfall, the governor and the legislature must support California’s low-income workers, students, and seniors most in need by protecting critical programs and pushing for policies that support marginalized families and workers. 

“Facing a sizable deficit, Governor Newsom makes an earnest effort to protect critical safety net programs for the most vulnerable Californians. Is his proposal perfect? No, far from it. On the one hand, we applaud his protection for historic investments in public education and health. On the other hand, he continues to propose cutting back important housing programs that are desperately needed. To pass a budget that fully reflects our California values while sustaining a growing state population with unmet needs like housing, lawmakers will need to take the prudent step of including sensible revenue generation measures in the final budget,” said Guillermo Mayer, President & CEO of Public Advocates. “We remain committed to partnering with the governor and the legislature in getting there.”

K-12 Education

“In the face of the large deficit, we applaud the governor’s commitment to avoid pink slips and maintain recent core transformative investments in our public schools, including for community schools, transitional kindergarten, and afterschool programs,” said John Affeldt, Public Advocates’ Managing Attorney

“Given the inability to support numerous additional critical programs like Cal Grant Reform and the Golden State Teacher grants as well as the many needs beyond education, it is vital for the administration and the legislature to consider new revenue options. From taxing services, oil extraction, wealthy estates or tweaks to Prop 13, the state has numerous options before it that are more stable than capital gains,” he added.

“As well, there is tremendous need in the field for school modernization and new construction funds. It is essential that a state school bond be among those advanced to the November ballot. The proposed cuts to school facilities funding only further underscores the need. As set forth in Public Advocates’ recent demand letter, however, any such school bond proposal must significantly revise the distribution scheme to low-wealth districts to meet constitutional standards. Since 1998, the state’s universal 60% contribution for all district modernization projects has sent twice as much per pupil to those in the wealthiest districts as those in the poorest. Now is the time to fix the unlawful, 25-year denial of equal educational opportunity in our public school capital finance system. To do so, it is imperative that this bond employ an equitable sliding scale much like the state’s system for funding operations,” said Affeldt.

College Affordability

“We recognize the challenging choices to propose a balanced budget in light of the deficit. Higher education students face rising costs, both on and off campus, including tuition, textbooks, and housing,” said Sbeydeh Viveros-Walton, Director of Higher Education at Public Advocates. “We remain concerned for the most vulnerable students who would benefit from investments in Cal Grant reform that are not included in the May revision. We urge the legislature to phase-in Cal Grant reform and remove financial aid access barriers—low-income students can’t wait.”

“We appreciate the administration’s continued commitment to the Higher Education Housing Grant Program despite the challenging budget environment,” said Jetaun Stevens, Senior Staff Attorney, Higher Education Equity at Public Advocates. “This program will ensure more low-income post-secondary students will be able to stay in school and have a safe and affordable place to live. The lack of access to affordable housing remains a barrier to students—and to many Californians—in achieving their dreams. We encourage the administration and legislature to keep investments in affordable housing as a priority.”

Housing Affordability and Renter Protections

“We recognize the complex, difficult choices the governor and legislature face in confronting a major budget deficit,” said Michelle Pariset, Public Advocates’ Director of Legislative Affairs. “However, it is critical that our leadership ultimately ensures that the projected budget shortfall isn’t shouldered by our neighbors already most burdened by low wages, skyrocketing housing costs, and historic disinvestment. Cutting housing and homelessness programs only exacerbates a dire situation for these communities. The governor has said that his priority on homelessness is to make encampments disappear; this cannot be accomplished humanely without providing affordable housing at the scale of the problem. Cutting $260 million from the Homeless Housing, Assistance and Prevention (HHAP) program, $325 million from the Multifamily Housing Program, $127.5 million and total elimination of the Adaptive Reuse Program, and $474 million and total elimination of the Foreclosure Intervention Housing Preservation Program are counterproductive to the governor’s stated goals on homelessness and housing and will do real harm.”

“It is far past time for the state to enact new revenue generating measures that provide reliable, ongoing funding to build and preserve homes that low-income Californians can afford. For example, passing AB 1932 [Ward], which would end the mortgage interest deduction on vacation and second homes, would add critical funding to housing and homelessness programs. In addition, our leadership must embrace bold policies that will provide funding at the scale necessary to address the full scope of our affordable housing crisis,” she added.


“Our public transit system’s continued financial viability is critical,” said Laurel Paget-Seekins, Public Advocates’ Senior Transportation Advocate and member of California’s Transit Transformation Task Force. “Given this year’s budget constraints, we appreciate that this proposal includes the short-term transit funding in last year’s budget. The short-term funding is needed to preserve the transit service that moves our communities, while the Transit Transformation Task Force identifies dedicated and stable long-term funding sources to maintain and grow transit service to support our equity and climate goals.”


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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