California’s Dem. Gov Gavin Newsom unveils new plans to defund law enforcement in crime-ridden state after massive budget deficit

By Germania Rodriguez For and Associated Press

19:18 06 Jun 2024, updated 18:23 07 Jun 2024

California governor Gavin Newsom‘s proposed new budget would slash funding for law enforcement as the state struggles with a massive deficit of at least $45 billion.

Last month the Democrat unveiled his budget for the next fiscal year, admitting that ‘difficult decisions’ are needed to address the state’s deficit – including a 1.6 percent reduction in the state’s Department of Justice’s overall funding.

The proposed budget includes a $97 million cut to trial court operations, $10 million to the Department of Justice’s Division of Law Enforcement and over $80 million to the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, as reported by Fox News. 

Newsom’s plan comes as major national stores and local businesses in California say they continue to face rampant theft. Videos of large-scale thefts, in which groups of individuals brazenly rush into stores and take goods in plain sight, have often gone viral.

Violent crime in Los Angeles rose by 2.9 percent in the first three months of 2024, and robberies increased by 9.5 percent, as reported by Fox 11. Homicides increased by 28.1 percent.

California governor Gavin Newsom ‘s proposed new budget would slash funding for the police as the state struggles with a massive deficit of at least $45 billion

Since March, the increase in homicides dropped to about 9.5 percent, with 81 murders compared with 74 during the same period in 2023, per NBC Los Angeles.

Meanwhile homelessness jumped 6 percent to more than 180,000 people in California last year, federal data show. And since 2013, the numbers have exploded by 53 percent with the state accounting for a third of America’s entire homeless population.

The state’s criminal justice record which saw the number of violent crimes jump by 27 percent between 2013 and 2022, and pickpocketing more than double. 

Newsom’s office defended his law enforcement record, telling the Democrat does not plan on defunding any local police departments.

His office added that ‘funding for DOJ has increased 33 percent – more than $200 million increase in police funding — nearing almost $1 Billion in total funding in the current budget proposal.’

This is the second year in a row the nation’s most populous state is facing a multibillion-dollar shortfall. State revenues have continued to fall amid increasing inflation and a slowdown in the state’s usually robust technology industry. 

Officially, Newsom said the state’s deficit is $27.6 billion. But really, it’s closer to $45 billion when including previous spending reductions that Newsom and the state Legislature agreed to in March. 

Including reductions in public education spending, which Newsom has not included, the deficit would be even billions of dollars more, according to recent analysis by the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office.

Newsom’s plan comes as major national stores and local businesses in California say they continue to face rampant theft and crime

A spokesperson for Newsom told Fox News in a statement: ‘The budget proposes numerous ways to make government more efficient and reduce costs for taxpayers, including cuts on inmate spending. 

‘Since Governor Newsom took office in 2019, the state has made record investments in law enforcement, including $1.1 billion to tackle crime, support police, and hold criminals accountable.’

So far, Newsom has not gutted some of his splashiest policy advancements, including free kindergarten for all 4-year-olds and free health insurance for all low-income adults regardless of their immigration status. 

But as Friday’s proposal showed, Newsom is willing to chip away at some of those promises to balance the budget.

While Newsom has not taken away health insurance from anyone, he proposed the state stop paying for health care workers to care for some 14,000 disabled immigrants in their home. That would save the state $94.7 million. While he hasn’t pulled back the state’s commitment to expanded kindergarten, he proposed eliminating $550 million that would have helped school districts build the facilities they need to teach all of those extra students.

After promising to pay for child care for another 146,000 children from low-income families, Newsom on Friday proposed pausing that expansion at 119,000. And after promising to boost how much money doctor’s get to treat Medicaid patients, Newsom on Friday proposed canceling $6.7 billion that had been set aside to do that.

Crime and high rates of homelessness in San Francisco persist, especially in the surrounding Downtown area and nearby Mission District. A man is seen sleeping outside the mall this year

In total, Newsom is proposing $32.8 billion in cuts over two years, including eliminating 10,000 unfilled state jobs and an 8 percent cut to state operations — including things like eliminating landlines. He promised there would be no layoffs, furloughs or salary cuts for the state’s more than 221,000 state workers. 

The size of the deficit is important as it will shape the national perspectives of Newsom, who is a top surrogate for President Joe Biden’s reelection campaign and who is widely believed to harbor presidential aspirations of his own. 

Newsom has spent much of his time in office basking in the glow of historic budget surpluses that allowed him to greatly expand state spending. But back-to-back budget deficits — with more on the horizon — are testing California’s commitment to those increases.

Newsom had enjoyed unprecedented surplus budgets of more than $100 billion throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. But the past two years have saddled him with a pair of multibillion-dollar deficits, a less-welcome position for a governor seen as a potential future Democratic presidential candidate.

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