California OKs $214.8B budget, including health insurance for illegal immigrants, money for homelessness

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The California Legislature has passed a $214.8 billion budget, with the package next set to land on Gov. Gavin Newsom’s desk.

The budget includes money to give taxpayer-funded health insurance to some low-income illegal immigrants. It also authorizes $2.4 billion in spending to address the state’s housing and homelessness crisis.

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While the Trump administration continues to crack down on illegal immigration, the budget passed Thursday would make California the first state to give some illegal immigrants government-funded health insurance.

Health care for those people is part of Democrats’ plan to eventually get everyone in California covered by health insurance.

The proposal has angered Republican lawmakers, who argue it’s not fair to tax people who are in the country legally for not buying health insurance while making people living in the country illegally eligible for taxpayer-funded coverage.

“I just don’t get the prioritization,” Republican Sen. John Moorlach of Costa Mesa said ahead of the vote. He noted he legally immigrated to the U.S. from the Netherlands in 1960.

Low-income illegal immigrants 19 to 25 would get government-funded health insurance. It would cost an estimated $98 million to cover about 90,000 people.

Families of four earning as much as $150,500 a year would get help paying monthly health insurance premiums.

People who refuse to buy health insurance would have to pay a tax.

The budget would spend $17.1 million to help people on Medi-Cal access vision, hearing, incontinence creams and washes, podiatry and speech therapy.

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The state would give $650 million to local governments to tackle homelessness and pump $500 million into a tax credit program to spur construction of residential rental units.

Lawmakers would spend $5 million on grants to homeless shelters so they can accommodate pets.

Newsom is expected to sign off on the budget in the coming days. He has 12 days to review the bill and is likely to sign it.

The spending plan is the first under Newsom, who took office in January and has positioned himself as resistor-in-chief to Trump.

The Trump administration has sought to weaken former President Barack Obama’s health care law by eliminating a tax on people who refuse to purchase private health insurance.

“What a luxury we have, to get to stand here and argue over where we should put our savings, how we should spend some of the additional money we have to support struggling Californians,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Toni Atkins, a San Diego Democrat.

Atkins called it the best state budget in 20 years.

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The massive bill, totaling more than 900 pages, divvies up tax dollars in the nation’s most populous state. Lawmakers must still pass more than a dozen other trailer bills to implement it.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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