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California Capitol Building in Sacramento

California Budget

Thriving families. Strong communities. A vibrant state. The California budget is the pathway to building a just and equitable state. By ensuring Californians have access to engage in meaningful conversations and strategic decisions, our budget and policies can better reflect Californians’ values and aspirations.

The state budget is about more than dollars and cents. Our resources on the California state budget can help us all ask: What kind of California do you want to live in?

Health & Safety Net

Every person needs quality health care, affordable food, safe housing — and a safety net to turn to when the unexpected hits. But instead of help being readily available in times of need, Californians are blocked from support or face barriers to getting assistance, pushing people of all ages deeper into poverty.

The Budget Center looks at the human and economic costs of exclusionary health and safety net policies, and how California can achieve health equity and economic security for all its people.

A small child with down syndrome is enjoying with his father at a public park on a sunny day.
Kindergarten children playing with toys.

Child Care & Preschool

Children grow and learn best when parents have access to safe, affordable, and quality child care and preschool. And the providers responsible for caring for and teaching babies and kids must be paid at least a living wage. But for many families, child care is unaffordable and providers — primarily women and workers of color — can’t earn a living.

Our work highlights why investment in child care, preschool, and other early childhood programs matters no matter one’s age and for the growth and well-being of California.

Poverty & Inequality

Economic security starts with every Californian having the cash and resources they need to put food on the table, a roof over their head, and save for the future. Yet, exclusionary policies and practices deny people stable jobs, paid sick leave, and basic income, and allow children to grow up in poverty.

Our analyses take a close look at what it takes to build an equitable economy for workers and families of all races, ethnicities, genders, and orientations.

A Mexican restaurant adapts to the Covid-19 lockdown. The workers are assembling bags of orders for pick-up, take-out and delivery.
Smiling graduates hugging outdoors


K-12 schools, community colleges, CSUs, and UCs are essential for students’ success inside and outside the classroom. By ensuring that children and youth have access to quality public education, California can expand economic opportunities for its people and secure the state’s position as an economic leader.

Our research explores how California can better target investments in students, provide the resources for learning and exploring, and position our state for sustained and broadly shared economic growth.


Investing in the health, safety, and economic stability of a community must start long before a crisis. COVID-19 exposed how generations of exclusionary policies only worsened conditions for low-income households, Californians of color, immigrants, and women while the wealthy and corporations thrived.

Our work asks: How can federal, state, and local policymakers ensure an equitable recovery that prioritizes individuals and families who were struggling even before the pandemic?

Young African American male patient sitting in a medical clinic and is being given the Covid 19 vaccine in his shoulder by a female African American doctor, both wearing protective face masks
Aerial view of of a residential neighborhood in Hawthorne, in Los Angeles, CA

Housing & Homelessness

Californians should be able to afford a home near their work and community. Yet millions of people struggle to pay their rents or mortgages each month. To ensure Californians have an affordable, safe, and healthy home, housing solutions must be a top priority for state leaders. 

Our reports analyze the need for investment and policy reforms in housing and supportive services for Californians and propose solutions needed now and in the future.

Justice System

California has taken steps to reform its criminal justice system and consider what everyone needs to live in safe communities. But Black Californians, other people of color, and families in poverty continue to be harmed and penalized by a criminal justice system built on racist policies and practices, and punishment over restoration.

Our research focuses on reducing reliance on incarceration, rethinking spending, and prioritizing structural changes to better serve Californians.

California State Courthouse Building in Sacramento, CA, USA
Bus moving across the 6th street bridge in LA.

Taxes & Revenue

Taxes and revenue represent our shared effort to provide vital public services and supports for Californians and our communities. But while corporations and the wealthy are provided significant advantages, California is not equitably generating enough revenues to help all Californians thrive.

Our work highlights how the state’s tax system remains unjust and points to opportunities to promote equity and economic security through tax policies that ensure all Californians can share in our state’s prosperity.

Ballot Propositions

Democracy works best when Californians have the information and power to make informed choices on ballot measures put before them. Often, the decisions voters make on statewide propositions affect how policymakers can later raise and spend tax revenues for essential services and supports for Californians.

Our analyses of ballot measures look at the intersection of statewide propositions, the state budget, and the greater effect on Californians and our communities.

A senior Mexican man at the voting booth thinking about his vote.