02/23/2024

Debt Affordability Report

Providing California families and businesses the infrastructure we must build to make possible the future they want, will require a 15-year investment estimated at $500 billion or more. The question is not whether we make that investment. It’s imperative we make it: After all, more than 38 million people live in California today, but we’ll have 50 million neighbors by the end of the next decade. The question is how we make the investment affordable.

The State has to be smarter about the way it plans and finances infrastructure development. Our current approach is too ad hoc. Voters and the Legislature authorize bonds for particular programs with little thought given to how those bonds fit into a larger infrastructure picture. We need to think longer-term and more strategically. Along those lines, my office has proposed the State develop a 25-year infrastructure master plan that would prioritize projects and provide a financing blueprint. We still think that’s a good idea.

Long-term state and local infrastructure financing also should be more fully incorporated into the year-by-year budget process. It should be stacked up against other public services, prioritized relative to those services and funded commensurate with that priority. State, local, Federal and private funding sources need to be considered and carefully coordinated to get the best infrastructure for Californians at the lowest possible cost.

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