California governor offers $144B budget, sees big surplus

California Gov. Gavin Newsom released a state budget proposal that seemingly does it all — boosts spending toward his ambitious campaign promises and sets aside significant contributions toward debts and savings.

It appears he can have his cake and eat it too because he's projecting a massive $21.5 billion surplus — far beyond anything the state has seen in nearly 20 years — as California collects more in taxes than predicted  and growth slows for Medi-Cal, which provides health care for low-income people.

The anticipated surplus is well over the roughly $15 billion predicted by the non-partisan legislative analyst's office.

Even as Newsom spoke, though, the state controller delivered a reality check: Revenue in December was nearly $5 billion below assumptions.

Newsom's proposed $144 billion general fund budget serves as his opening pitch in negotiations with state lawmakers who by law must approve a spending plan by June 15.

Dawn Kamber