Local Government

California is becoming 4th largest economy in the world

State Controller Malia Cohen, who began her term in January, was this month’s featured speaker at Sharon Quirk-Silva’s “Breakfast Club,” held April 14th at the Buena Park Senior Center’s Heritage Hall.

Cohen said that if California were a country, its economy would soon be surpassed by only the United States as a whole, China, and Japan. As the state’s chief fiscal officer, she discussed her office’s role in managing California’s financial resources. The Golden State Stimulus program was a federal program but administered by her office, so contact them directly if there were questions or it wasn’t received. California faces a projected budget deficit of $22.5 billion for the coming fiscal year – a sharp turnaround from last year’s $98 billion surplus.

Projected revenues fell short, but the state has reserves in 2022 to offset this. There is $23.3 billion in the Budget Stabilization Account, $3.5 billion in the Special Fund for Economic Uncertainties (SFEU), and $900 million in the Safety Net Reserve (for programs like MediCal). Her department is conducting an audit to determine how and where the state spends nearly $10 billion over three years.

Of the half-million Californians who used those services, more than 40% ended up housed. Sharon Quirk-Silva likened her role as Assemblywoman as having to decide between 20 needed budget categories, with just four “stickers” to allocate for what she saw as her top priority needs – which she saw as homeless housing, mental health, education, and critical, incidental needs (such as an urgent leaking roof repair at the Cerritos Senior Center where the “Breakfast Club” met last month).

The 67th Assembly District now includes parts of the North Orange County cities of Fullerton and Anaheim, all of Buena Park, and the Los Angeles County cities of Artesia, Cerritos, and Hawaiian Gardens. Quirk-Silva has conducted these “Breakfast Club” speaker meetings for years, even during the pandemic.

The next one is scheduled for June 23rd and will feature Malia Cohen’s budget-expenditure monitoring counterpart, Fiona Ma (who monitors revenue sources).