State Budget Update

Updated 1/19/2021

Governor Invests in COVID Relief, Advances Key Proposals to Address Health Equity, But Leaves out Health4ALL and New Funding for Local Public Health Departments

On Friday, January 8th, Governor Gavin Newsom released his $227 billion proposed budget for the 2021-2022 fiscal year. The proposal includes $14 billion in emergency investments to provide immediate relief for individuals and small businesses disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, including $600 dollars in one-time assistance for low-income Californians, $300 million for vaccine distribution and an awareness campaign, an extension of the state’s eviction moratorium, the safe reopening of schools including extended learning time, and workforce investment. The budget also includes critical investments in telehealth and an important focus with no dedicated funding on improving health equity in the Medi-Cal program by strengthening the way California identifies, tracks, and holds accountable health care delivery systems and drivers of high health costs, with consequences for those who fall short of key health equity metrics.

While these additional investments are critical, the budget misses important opportunities to make substantial, long-term investments in the health and economic well-being of Californians including low-income and communities of color, hardest hit by COVID-19. California’s economic recovery has been uneven with higher earners continuing to prosper while low-income workers bear the brunt of the economic impacts. The Governor’s budget fails to expand Medi-Cal to all undocumented Californians including seniors over the age of 65, in the middle of a pandemic. Additionally, the budget fails to include new funds for local public health departments, who for a second year in a row, are being asked to work overtime to educate their communities about the pandemic and safety requirements, as well as outreach to underserved communities. In order to continue doing their jobs, which have only grown due to the pandemic, we must invest in them and fund their work for the health of all Californians. To view the full budget proposal click here

Highlights of the 2021-2022 State Budget: The Governor’s proposed FY 2021-22 budget includes $34 billion in budget resiliency actions, consisting of various budgetary reserves and discretionary surpluses. Despite the state’s projected budgetary surplus, expenditures are projected to grow faster than revenues over future years. A structural deficit of $7.6 billion is projected in 2022-23 which is expected to grow to over $11 billion by 2024-25.


  • Total Budget: $227 Billion 
  • General Fund Spending: $164.5 billion
  • Total Spending for Health & Human Services: $195.1 billion ($64.3 billion General Fund and $130.8 billion other funds). This number does not include all pandemic response costs.
  • Rainy Day Fund: $15.6 billion coming from the state’s rainy day fund 

Key Proposals: COVID-19 has highlighted and exacerbated health disparities for communities of color. The Governor’s spending plan proposes several initiatives (both funded and not) to address these inequities including:

  • Health Plan Equity and Quality Standards (no dedicated funding): The Administration is proposing to invest in the establishment of a priority set of standard quality measures for full services and behavioral health plans that will include quality and equity benchmark standards. Health plans that do meet equity benchmarks will be subject to enforcement actions.
  • Improving Equity Through Managed Care Plan Re-Procurement (no dedicated funding): The Administration is proposing to focus on health disparities and cultural and linguistic competency through health plan contractual language with a framework similar to the Blueprint equity metric as Medi-Cal managed care plans contracts come up for renewal. Read more about our proposals in our report we released in December, Centering Equity in Health Care Delivery and Payment Reform: A Guide for California Policymakers.
  • Telehealth Flexibilities in Medi-Cal: The Governor’s proposed budget makes permanent some telehealth flexibilities and adds remote patient monitoring as a new covered benefit, effective July 1, 2021. Read more about our survey findings and proposals in a report we released in December, Equity in the Age of Telehealth: Considerations for California Policymakers.
  • New Office of Health Care Affordability: This new Office will investigate the drivers of health care costs and track equity metrics on the entire health care system, and hold them accountable and impose consequences.
  • Investments in CalAIM to focus on payment reform, incentive payments, investing in preventions, and whole person care.

Medi-Cal/Overall Health Care:

With communities of color bearing the brunt of COVID-19, the Governor’s budget includes several proposals (both funded and not), aimed at improving health equity through more targeted enforcement of health plan requirements and re-procurement (details are expected to be released this spring.) However the budget misses an important opportunity to expand Medi-Cal to all Californians including seniors over the age of 65 regardless of immigration status in the midst of pandemic when it is needed most. The budget also includes additional COVID-19 related investments including $300 million in funds for vaccine distribution and an awareness campaign and an expansion of telehealth flexibilities which will make it easier for Medi-Cal recipients to access care. The budget also includes funds for implementation of the California Advancing and Innovating Medi-Cal Initiative (Cal-AIM) which was delayed by one year due to the pandemic.

  • Medi-Cal Caseload Projections: The Governor’s budget includes $5.4 billion ($1.7 billion General Fund) in 2020-21 and $13.5 billion ($4.3 billion General Fund) in 2021-22 for increased caseload attributable to the COVID-19 Pandemic. The Administration projects caseload will peak at 16.1 million beneficiaries in January 2022, driven by the federal continuous coverage requirement related to the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency and the COVID-19 induced recession, despite lower-than-expected Caseload rates in 2020.[1] If 2020 is some indication, further scrutiny of the Administration’s enrollment projections is warranted.
  • Fails to Include a Proposal to Expand Medi-Cal to Undocumented Seniors: Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Newsom proposed to expand Medi-Cal to undocumented adults aged 65 or older. This proposal was withdrawn in May and is noticeably absent from the Governor’s proposed spending plan at a time when access to health care including preventative care, testing, treatment and vaccines is needed most. Latinx workers, at the frontlines as essential workers, with many living in congregate settings, must not be left behind, especially in the middle of a pandemic. 
  • Includes Investments to Improve Health Equity: The Governor’s spending plan includes several proposals totaling at least $13 million tied to the goal of improving health equity including:
    • Health Plan Equity and Quality Standards (no dedicated funding): The Administration is proposing to invest in the establishment of a priority set of standard quality measures for full services and behavioral health plans that will include quality and equity benchmark standards. Health plans that do meet equity benchmarks will be subject to enforcement actions. Additional details are expected to be released this spring.
    • Improving Equity Through Managed Care Plan Re-Procurement (no dedicated funding): The Administration is proposing to focus on health disparities and cultural and linguistic competency through health plan contractual language with a framework similar to the Blueprint equity metric as Medi-Cal managed care plans contracts come up for renewal. There is currently no budget amount tied to this proposal.
    • Analysis of COVID-19 Impacts ($1.7 million): The budget includes $1.7 million in 2021-22, $154,000 in 2022-23 and ongoing to the California Health and Human Services Agency to conduct an analysis of the intersection of COVID-19, health disparities, and health equity to help inform any future response.
    • Community Navigators for Developmental Services ($5.3 million): The Budget includes $5.3 million for the Department of Developmental Services to contract with family resource centers to implement a navigator model statewide that would utilize parents and individuals in the regional center system to provide education on resources, advocacy, and mentorship to other parents of individuals being served by the regional center system.
    • Development of an Equity Dashboard ($4.1 million in 2021-22/$2.1 million ongoing): The budget allocates $4.1 million in 2021-22 and $2.1 million ongoing for the Health and Human Services Agency to further reorient the administration of its programs through the use of data and the development of an equity dashboard.
  • Includes Funds for Cal-AIM: The budget includes $1.1 billion ($531.9 million General Fund) in 2021-22, growing to $1.5 billion ($755.5 million General Fund) in 2023-24 to implement the California Advancing and Innovating Medi-Cal (Cal-AIM) initiative which was delayed for a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This investment will provide for enhanced care management and in lieu of services, necessary infrastructure to expand whole person care approaches statewide, and build upon existing dental initiatives. Beginning in 2024-25, the Administration proposes to phase out infrastructure funding, resulting in ongoing costs of about $846.4 million ($423 million General Fund) per year. There are also several other Cal-AIM proposals detailed under behavioral health. Given the disruption of COVID-19, the Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) recommends that the Legislature use the upcoming budget process to learn more about the differences between this and last year’s proposals, resolve key outstanding questions, weigh the potential benefits and risks of the current reform package, and identify components that may be missing.[2]
  • Includes Funds for Medi-Cal Coverage of Continuous Glucose Monitors: The Budget includes $12 million ($4.2 million General Fund) in 2021-22 and ongoing to add continuous glucose monitors as a covered Medi-Cal benefit for adult individuals with type 1 diabetes, effective January 1, 2022.  
  • Expands Telehealth Flexibilities in Medi-Cal: The Budget includes $94.8 million ($34 million General Fund) ongoing to expand and make permanent certain telehealth flexibilities authorized during COVID-19 for Medi-Cal providers, and to add remote patient monitoring as a new covered benefit, effective July 1, 2021. This effort will expand access to preventative services which may improve health outcomes and increase health equity.
  • Includes Funds for Vaccine Distribution: The budget includes $300 million as an initial estimate for vaccine distribution and a public awareness campaign.
  • Addresses Aging Issues: The budget includes $5 million for spring proposals to further implement the Master Plan for Aging and a $3 million one-time investment for OSHPD to grow and diversify the pipeline for the geriatric medicine workforce. The Administration also plans to appoint a Senior Advisor on Aging, Disability and Alzheimer’s to advance cross-Cabinet initiatives.
  • Medi-Cal Postpartum Eligibility Extension ($27.1 million): The Budget delays the suspension of Medi-Cal post-partum extended eligibility by 12 months to December 31, 2022 for a cost of $27.1 million General Fund in 2021-22.  
  • Optional Medi-Cal Benefits Extension ($47 million): The budget delays the suspension of optional Medi-Cal benefits, specifically audiology and speech therapy service, incontinence cream and washes, eyeglasses and contracts, and podiatric services for a cost of $47 million.
  • Proposition 56 Suspensions Extension: The budget extends Proposition 56 suspensions effective July 1, 2022, except for supplemental payments to intermediate care facilities for the developmentally disabled, freestanding pediatric subacute facilities, and Community Based Adult Services, which will be suspended December 31, 2022, due to the managed care calendar rate year. Payments for Women’s Health, Family Planning, and the Loan Repayment Program are exempt from suspension. The Budget also proposes to exempt supplemental payments for the Behavioral Health Integration program, the AIDS waiver, Home Health, and Pediatric Day Health from suspension because they would not be deemed eligible by the federal government.

Medi-Cal Mental Health

A number of studies and polls show a significant increase in the number of Californians experiencing mental health challenges as a result of COVID-19’s social, physical, and economic impacts. We will continue to see effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the mental health of Californians for many years to come. The governor’s proposed budget includes investments in behavioral health services with a particular focus on school-age children and those with acute needs.  

  • Behavioral Health Continuum Infrastructure Funding ($750 million): Available over three years, the budget proposes to invest and expand the capacity of the community-based behavioral health continuum, including the addition of at least 5,000 beds, units, or rooms for services to address short-term crisis stabilization, acute needs, peer respite, and other clinically enriched longer-term treatment and rehabilitation opportunities for persons with behavioral health disorders.  
  • Increased Access to Student Behavioral Health Services ($400 million): The governor proposed $400 million to implement an incentive program through Medi-Cal managed Care plans, in coordination with county behavioral health departments and schools, to build infrastructure, partnerships, and capacity statewide to increase the number of students receiving preventive and early intervention behavioral health services.  
  • Health Plan Equity and Quality Standards (no dedicated funding): California’s Medi-Cal managed care plans in particular continue to fall short of offering equitable access to mental health services five years after implementation of the mental health parity laws. Current behavioral health reporting measures cannot answer how effective current behavioral health interventions are at improving outcomes and across significant indicators of wellbeing in communities of color, including those that are community-defined and consumer-focused. CPEHN will be closely monitoring the Administration’s plan to set standard quality measures for full service and behavioral health plans. A proposal to the Legislature will be available in the spring. 
  • Board and Care Housing for Individuals with Significant Behavioral Health Needs ($250 million): The budget includes critical investments to prevent and address homelessness among individuals with serious behavioral health needs.   
  • Incompetent to Stand Trial: California continues to experience a growing number of incompetent to stand trial (IST) commitments who are referred from trial courts and are awaiting admission to state hospital system, which has been further exacerbated by the COVID-19 Pandemic. The number of ISTs pending placement into the state hospital system was approximately 1,428 individuals in December 2020. CPEHN and advocates are concerned about the growing number of Californians who are incompetent to stand trial. As alternatives, the state is investing in the development of community-based treatment options for individuals who are experiencing mental illness and are homeless. 
  • Mental Health Student Services Act Partnership Grant Program ($25 million): These one-time funds, available over five years to the Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission, can be used to augment the Mental Health Student Services Act Partnership Grant Program, which was established to fund partnerships between county behavioral health departments and local education entities for the purpose of increasing access to mental health services in locations that are easily accessible to students and their families.
  • Partnerships Between County Behavioral Health and Student Mental Health Services ($25 million): The budget includes $25 million ongoing Proposition 98 General Fund to fund innovative partnerships with county behavioral health departments to support student mental health services. This funding would be provided to local educational agencies as a match to funding in county Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) spending plans dedicated to the mental health needs of students.

Oral Health 

  • Proposition 56 Funding Suspensions Postponed: The Governor’s Budget has proposed to postpone planned Proposition 56 suspensions for July 1, 2021, to a new effective date of July 1, 2022. In 2017, Proposition 56 funds were approved to supplement payments for popular dental services under the Medi-Cal Dental program. Reimbursement rates for Medi-Cal Dental covered services are not competitive with private insurers, making it difficult for dentists to treat Medi-Cal patients while maintaining their practice. These funds supplement Medi-Cal Dental reimbursement payments, making it easier for dentists to provide care for Medi-Cal patients without worrying about their dental practice’s financial security.  
  • Dental Care and CalAIM: Intending to achieve at least a 60% dental utilization rate for Medi-Cal eligible children, and with the hopes of improving care coordination, this budget launches the following CalAIM reforms for the Medi-Cal Dental program: 
    • Adding new dental benefits based on the outcomes and successes from the Dental Transformation Initiative that will provide better care and align with national oral health standards. The proposed new benefits include a Caries Risk Assessment Bundle for young children and Silver Diamine Fluoride for young children and specified high-risk and institutional populations 
    • Continued and expanded Pay for Performance Initiatives initiated under the Dental Transformation Initiative that reward increasing the use of preventive services and establishing/maintaining continuity of care through a dental home. These expanded initiatives would be available statewide for children and adult Medi-Cal enrollees. 
  • State-Only Claiming Adjustment ($279.1 million): The Budget includes $249.8 million General Fund in 2020-21 and $279.1 million General Fund in 2021-22 for retroactive and ongoing dental, pharmacy, and managed care, targeted case management, and behavioral health costs associated with state-only populations.
  • Missing from the budget: The budget does not include a commitment to cover all income-eligible seniors ages 65 or older, regardless of immigration status, for full-scope Medi-Cal. What this means for the oral health of full-scope ineligible seniors is they will continue to remain in restricted-scope Medi-Cal, which does not include the optional adult dental benefit. Emergency dental services are covered under restricted-scope Medi-Cal.  

Public Health & Prevention 

  • COVID-19 Response: COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted communities of color, further exacerbating economic and health disparities in our state. The Governor’s COVID-19 relief plan relies heavily on federal assistance $298 billion to date (including the CARES Act) and another $100 billion from the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA) passed in December 2020. Unlike the CARES Act passed in April, 2020, CRRSAA does NOT include direct relief to local governments (e.g. local health departments) and hospitals. It does extend the deadline to spend down CARES Act dollars by a full calendar year until the end of 2021, hopefully sustaining local relief programs and policies that were established largely due to the CARES Act funding. 
  • Additional relief provided through CRRSAA includes:
    • $20 billion in unemployment benefits 
    • $18.3 billion economic impact payments (i.e. $600 checks) 
    • $2.2 billion for testing, tracing, and vaccination 
    • $0 direct aid to local governments 
  • Fails to Include Additional Funds for Local Public Health Departments: While the budget includes several COVID-19-related proposals, it is important to note that no new funding investments for local public health departments were included in the Governor’s proposed budget.
  • New Cannabis Department ($29 million): The budget proposes to transfer 119 positions in 2021-22 from the Department of Public Health to support the consolidation of resources for the new Department of Cannabis Control.
  • Licensing and Certification ($19.1 and $4.5 million): The budget includes funds for year three of the Los Angeles County contract ($19.1 million) and to support increased medical breach and caregiver investigation workload ($4.5 million).
  • Childhood Reading Augmentation ($5 million): The budget includes a one-time allocation of $5 million for the Department of Public Health to provide books to low-income children to improve child development and literacy.

Other Health Programs:

  • Establishes New Office of Health Care Affordability ($11.2 million in 2021-22, $24.5 million in 2022-23, and $27.3 million in 2023-24 and ongoing): The new office will be charged with increasing transparency on cost and quality, developing cost targets for the health care industry, enforcing compliance through financial penalties, and filling gaps in market oversight of transactions that may adversely impact market competition, prices, quality, access, and the total cost of care. The budget also mentions a forthcoming proposal in the spring recasting the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development and the proposed Office of Health Care Affordability under the umbrella of a Department of Health Care Affordability and Infrastructure.
  • Accelerates Implementation of the California’s new Health Information Exchange (no dedicated funding): The budget states the Administration’s interest in accelerating the utilization and integration of health information exchanges as part of a network that receives and integrates health data for all Californians in order to improve health outcomes and health care affordability. This cannot be achieved without unified patient health records and digital infrastructure to support better integration of health and human services.

Specific Immigrant Programs:

  • Extends $600 COVID-19 stimulus payments to ITIN filers: The Governor’s budget extends eligibility for the $600 COVID-19 stimulus payment to everyone who receives the CalEITC, even ITIN filers as part of the state’s Golden State Stimulus program. Filers could receive this payment and the CalEITC when they file their 2020 tax return. The Legislative Analyst’s Office, which reviews the Governor’s proposal suggests that the Governor and Legislature could go even farther to target resources to those left out of federal relief by providing up to $1,800 in tax credits specifically to ITIN filers.
  • One California Immigrant Services ($75 million): The budget maintains funds to the California Department of Social Services for qualified immigration services to immigrants – including deportation defense, naturalization, and counsel for unaccompanied minors – and other immigration-related legal services. This critical investment includes continuing funding for legal services to students, faculty and staff at the California Community Colleges (CCCs), California State Universities (CSUs) and the University of California system (UC).
  • One California Rapid Response Program ($5 million): The budget includes one-time funds for the Rapid Response Program to support entities that provide critical assistance/services to immigrants during emergent situations when federal funding is not available. 

Human Services:

  • Addressing Aging in California ($258 million): The budget notes the disproportionate effects of COVID-19 on people 65 years or older and makes several targeted investments: a proposal for a new Office of Medicare Innovation and Integration, expanded facilities to support housing, Aging and Disability Resource Connections (ADRC), an In-Home Supportive Services COVID-19 back-up provider system, and an increase in the geriatric care workforce. Excluding the proposed new Office of Medicare Innovation and Integration and the ADRC, the investments amount to $258 million in one-time General Funds.
  • California Food Assistance Program (CFAP) Emergency Allotments ($11.4 million): The Budget will include a one-time General Fund expenditure of $11.4 million for the California Food Assistance Program Emergency Allotments. Before the pandemic, CalFresh recipients received Calfresh benefits according to their income. Often, families were not approved for the maximum amount their household could be eligible for. The CFAP Emergency Allotments will bridge the gap between what families are approved for and the maximum allowable allotment based on household size.
  • In Home Supportive Services (IHSS) ($1.2 billion): The Budget reflects $1.2 billion ($557.6 million General Fund) to support a minimum wage increase of $14 per hour beginning January 1, 2021, and $15 per hour on January 1, 2022. 

Public Safety

Criminal Justice: The Governor’s budget provides $13.1 billion for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) and $546.9 million for rehabilitative programs, nearly double the level in 2012-13. The budget also provides $6.8 million one-time General Fund to repair health care facilities at California’s rehabilitation centers.

  • Caseload Projections: The budget projects a 20% decrease in daily adult inmate population compared to the 2020 budget act due to the suspension of county intake from March to late August and in November. As such the state is reimbursing counties for holding greater numbers of inmates in county jails.
  • COVID related deaths: Despite repeated assurances of progress in controlling the spread of COVID-19, California’s prisons continue to be hit hard by a deadly surge of COVID-19. As of December 2020 there were 9,000 active inmate cases and 103 deaths. The budget details steps the state is taking to address these surges but more must be done:
    • Beginning July 1, 2020, CDCR implemented a community supervision program to enable CDCR to increase physical distancing and other efforts to mitigate the spread of the virus, releasing eligible inmates to county probation and state parole.
    • Corrections officials are working to institute other mitigation efforts including providing more space, limited visits, staff screening, etc 
    • Expanded testing for staff and some for inmates since June per guidelines from CDPH
    • Project Hope: provides quarantine and isolation sheltering support for individuals returning to the community from California state prisons 
  • Criminal Justice and health ($3.4 million in 2021-22 and $3.1 million ongoing): The budget includes funds for the Office of Youth and Community Restoration to develop reports on youth outcomes in the juvenile justice system 

Housing, Homelessness, Anti-Poverty:

COVID-19 Pandemic Impacts on Housing 

The COVID-19 Pandemic exacerbated California’s already existing housing crisis. The Governor’s budget remains focused on addressing the housing crisis and fostering an equitable economic recovery through targeted investments and reforms, continued resources to increase the supply of very-low, low- and moderate-income housing, and focused provision of stability for households most impacted by the COVID-19 Pandemic

Preventing Evictions and Foreclosures 

  • Extension of Federal aid to CA: The budget seeks immediate extension to AB 3088 to extend eviction protections past January 31, 2021.  
  • Tax Refunds: The budget seeks to refund $600 to all 2019 taxpayers who received a California Earned Income Tax Credit (CalEITC) in 2020 as well as to 2020 taxpayers with individual tax identification numbers (ITNS) who will receive a CalEITC in 2021 to help pay rent. 
  • Consumer awareness and protection campaign ($2 million): The budget includes one-time funding for the Department of Fair Employment and Housing, the state’s civil rights agency, to conduct outreach education campaigns, housing surveys, and prosecute violations of anti-housing discrimination laws. 

Economic Recovery Investments 

  • Infill Infrastructure Grant Program ($500 million): The budget provides one-time funding for the Infill Infrastructure Grant Program to accelerate economic recovery through the creation of jobs and long-term housing development.  
  • Low-Income Housing Tax Credits ($500 million): The budget includes a third round of funding for low-income housing tax credits. This will further reduce funding gaps in affordable housing units statewide. 
  • Construction Apprenticeships ($8.5 million):  The budget includes one-time funding for the California Workforce Development Board to expand access to state-approved construction apprenticeships through multi-craft pre-apprenticeship programs and High Road Training Partnerships. 
  • Creation of Housing Accountability Unit at the Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) ($4.3 million): The budget includes funds to facilitate affordable housing production through monitoring, technical assistance, and enforcement of existing housing production laws.


Expanded Facilities to Support Housing for All: The budget includes 1.75 billion in one-time funding to further develop a broader portfolio of housing needed to end homelessness through continued acquisitions and creation of new units including:

  • Project Home key ($700 million): The budget includes funds for HCD to continue provide competitive grants for local governments to purchase and rehabilitate housing, including hotels, motels, vacant apartment buildings, and other buildings, and convert them into interim or permanent long-term housing.
  • Behavioral Health ($750 million): The budget includes funds over three years for the Department of Health Care Services to provide competitive grants to counties for the acquisition and rehabilitation of real estate assets to expand the community continuum of behavioral health treatment resources, seeking to improve continuum of services by providing short-term crisis stabilization, acute needs, peer respite, and other clinically enriched longer-term treatment and rehabilitation opportunities for persons with behavioral health disorders.  
  • Preserve and expand housing for low-income seniors ($250 million): The budget includes one-time General Fund for the Department of Social Services to counties for the acquisition or rehabilitation of Adult Residential Facilities (ARF) and Residential Care Facilities for the Elderly (RCFE) 



Addressing Immediate Needs to Reopen Schools Safely: Since March 2020, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, a majority of the state’s school age children have had no access to in-person instruction. These conditions are affecting children’s learning, health and social emotional well-being. As part of the state’s efforts to address immediate needs of schools to re-open safely:  

  • In-Person-Instruction Grants ($2 billion): The budget augments resources for schools to offer in-person instruction safely. Students with barriers to distance learning, especially those with disabilities, those struggling with behavioral health issues, and the state’s youngest learners. The funding will be available on a per-pupil basis for all county schools, school districts, and charter schools that are open for in-person instruction by specified dates. Funds may be used for: 
    • Enhancing and expanding COVID-19 testing 
    • Purchasing personal protective equipment 
    • Improving ventilation and the safety of indoor and outdoor learning spaces
    • Teacher or classified staff salaries for those providing and supporting in-person instruction
    • Social and mental health support services provided in conjunction with in-person instruction 
  • Expanding Learning Time to Address Learning Loss of COVID-19 Pandemic ($4.6 billion): allocated for early action by the Legislature. These funds will address educational disruptions related to COVID-19 pandemic school closures and will focus on target interventions that focus on students from low-income families, English language learners, youth in foster care, and homeless youth, including an extended school year or summer schools.  
  • Federal COVID-19 Relief Funds ($58.3 billion): These resources will assist schools in reopening and remaining open for in-person instruction and addressing immediate needs of students. 
    • ($54.3 billion) allocated to Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund for public k-12 schools.  
    • ($4 billion) Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund (GEER) for public and private pre-kindergarten through higher education institutions.  
  • Additional funding for K-12 education ($3.4 billion) in non-proposition 98 General fund for K-14 education. In addition, k-14 schools are expected to receive billions of additional federal funds from the recently approved federal COVID-relief bill.  
  • Average Daily Attendance (ADA) collection: The 2020 Budget Act included several policies designed to support funding stability for local educational agencies given the COVID-19 Pandemic. These policies include:  
    • Requirements for distance learning supports for students with exceptional needs 
    • Requirements for minimum daily interaction with students in distance learning 
    • Requirements for documenting student participation and engagement  
  • Addressing Equity ($315.3 million): investments in providing educators with the tools they need to meet the needs of students. This includes a focus on professional development for teachers in high need areas, on social emotional learning and trauma informed practices, on mathematic teaching strategies for young children pre-K through third grade, and on learning loss in core subject matter content areas, and materials for courses on ethnic studies.  
  • School climate surveys ($10 million): The governor’s budget allocates funds for a county office of education to support wide spread access and use of school climate surveys, with the goal of assessing community needs stemming from COVID-19 Pandemic and distance learning. 
  • Implementation of Master Plan for Early Learning and Care: The budget begins implementation of the Master Plan by expanding access to transitional kindergarten (TK).  
    • $250 million, available over multiple years, to provide grants to local education agencies that offer early access to TK, to help them cover up-front costs associated with expanding their TK programs.  
    • $50 million to support the preparation of TK teachers 
    • $200 million for school districts to construct and retrofit existing facilities to support TK and full-day kindergarten programs 

Higher Education  

The COVID-19 Pandemic has impacted the state’s higher education systems. These impacts include a reported 8 percent decline in California Community College enrollment that is disproportionally attributable to underrepresented students. The state has also seen declines of roughly 10 percent and 45 percent in first time freshman application free application for federal student aid (FAFSA) completion rates and the California Dream application completion rates. The budget proposes early action on the following:  

  • Emergency Student Financial Assistance Grants ($100 million) to full-time, low income community college students.
  • Bolster CCC student retention rates and enrollment ($20 million) to engage former students who may have withdrawn from college due to impacts of COVID-19 pandemic and to engage students who may be hesitant to enroll.  
  • Amend statute to maintain maximum tuition awards for students attending private nonprofit institutions and restore eligibility for Cal Grants for students impacted by a change in their living status due to the pandemic.  
  • Deferral payments for community colleges that received less overall support in the 2020 Budget Act as a result of the COVID-19 induced recession.  
  • Assistance for students at community colleges, including
    • Emergency financial assistance ( $150 million)  
    • Food and housing insecurity ($100 million)  
    • Technological access such as electronic devises and high speed internet ($30 million)  
    • California apprenticeship  initiatives ($15 million)  
    • Work-based learning models and programs ($20 million)  
    • Zero textbook cost degrees ($15 million) 
  • Assistance for students at California State University, including:  
    • Emergency financial assistance ($250 million)  
    • Basic needs focused on digital equity and mental health services ($15 million)  
    • Basic needs focused on addressing food and housing insecurity, financial stress and other challenges ($15 million)  
  • Assistance for students at the University of California, including
    • Emergency financial assistance ($15 million)  
    • Basic needs focused on digital equity and mental health services ($15 million)  
    • Medical education focused on Native American communities ($12.9 million)  

[1] Medi-Cal New Enrollments Ethnicity: DHCS SAC Meeting, July 16, 2020.

[2] Legislative Analyst’s Office, “The 2021-22 Budget: Overview of the Governor’s Budget,”

CPEHN will continue advocating for investments that prioritize the health of our most vulnerable communities. 

Stay tuned for a more in depth analysis and for more information about CPEHN’s policy priorities, visit:


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