The 2023 legislative session kicked off earlier this month and Cal Cities was ready to fight for cities. Cal Cities leadership met with key Senate and Assembly leaders, as well as the Governor’s Office just days after the session officially started, to discuss Cal Cities’ advocacy priorities.

California is home to half of all unsheltered people in the country and affordable homes are out of reach for many people. Earlier this year, Cal Cities called on Gov. Gavin Newsom to create a permanent $3 billion fund to help boost California’s housing supply and prevent homelessness.

Limited, one-time pots of funding prevent cities from planning for the long-term and stifle more ambitious goals. A recent report found that the state needs to spend $8.1 billion annually to end homelessness.

The report is influencing the analysis of political commentators. A Los Angeles Times editorial argued, “The state needs to understand the reality of this colossal problem that has been decades in the making and cannot be solved in a few budget cycles” and noted that Cal Cities had asked the state for ongoing funding of $3 billion a year. Likewise, a Sacramento Bee op-ed noted that “consistency of the funding is as important as the commitment.”

Legislators have until Feb. 17 to introduce bills, which means committee hearings and votes are still weeks away. However, the Capitol is already awash with activity, most notably around the state’s budget deficit. The Legislative Analyst’s Office urged the Legislature to consider an additional $14 billion in additional cuts and spending delays, setting the stage for another months-long debate.

But Cal Cities is keeping the pressure up to ensure that spending cuts and delays do not impact city priorities. In addition to housing and homelessness, Cal Cities Officers discussed with lawmakers the urgent need to safeguard existing local revenues.

The state has used local governments funding sources and revenue in the past to balance its budget. Siphoning local revenues will compound the financial challenges of the state by weakening the bedrock of California’s economy: local governments.

Cal Cities Officers also outlined the need to increase public safety through prevention and early intervention programming and improved re-entry services, as directed by Cal Cities’ advocacy priorities. A Public Policy Institute of California report found that Proposition 47 directly correlated to an uptick in larceny thefts throughout the state. This issue has become even more pronounced due to staffing challenges in law enforcement.

Other Cal Cities members are taking action as well. Over 400 city leaders will gather this month to prepare for the year ahead through Cal Cities’ seven policy committees. Their recommendations are forwarded to the board of directors for review and approval. New Mayors and Council Members Academy attendees also met with lawmakers last week in Sacramento to voice their concerns and priorities.