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Newsom proposes defunding police, prisons, public safety as California faces massive deficit

California Gov. Gavin Newsom proposes slashing millions from 'public safety' as the Democratic state grapples with a massive budget deficit totaling $37.9 billion.

Gov. Gavin Newsom, D-Calif., proposed slashing budgets regarding public safety, such as prisons and law enforcement, as the state simultaneously grapples with a crippling deficit and doubles down on climate goals relating to equity.

The California Democrat's proposed budget, released in May, notes that "difficult decisions" are necessary to address the estimated $27.6 billion deficit, which is projected to continue for years to come. It includes a $97 million cut to trial court operations, $10 million to the Department of Justice's Division of Law Enforcement and more than $80 million to the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

A Newsom spokesperson initially told Fox News Digital that there were "no cuts to law enforcement." 

"The budget proposes numerous ways to make government more efficient and reduce costs for taxpayers, including cuts on inmate spending. Since Governor Newsom took office in 2019, the state has made record investments in law enforcement, including $1.1 billion to tackle crime, support police, and hold criminals accountable," the spokesperson said. 

However, an official from the Department of Finance acknowledged a 1.6% reduction in the state's Department of Justice's overall proposed budget.

"What's happening in California is just the greatest disrespect of taxpayer's resources in the history of America," Florida's chief financial officer, Jimmy T. Patronis, told Fox News Digital. "They're in a panic. They're in a free fall. They're looking for money to make up this enormous budget deficit they've got right now." 

Patronis argued that an exodus from California has helped fuel the budget deficit. The Golden State experienced the largest net loss of one-way movers, according to a United Van Lines study published earlier this year. 

Moreover, California’s green energy policies have caused blue-collar businesses to suffer from stagnation and decline, a Chapman University study published in April found. Soaring home prices in California, exacerbated by environmental regulations, are also causing historically White middle class people to join the exodus, according to the study. 

Nonetheless, Newsom proposed shifting money from the general fund, offering $1.7 billion for climate goals, particularly those related to "equity programs." 


Patronis also said California's deficit was partially due to businesses fleeing the state because of high crime. Newsom's proposal to cut public safety funds will only fuel the "vicious cycle," he added. Florida, on the other hand, has had budget surpluses. 

"Ultimately, this vicious cycle where you've got a weaker prison system" will cause "weaker incarceration, which has been kind of the narrative that's been coming out of California now," Patronis said. "San Francisco has been kind of like the poster child for businesses fleeing a once-prosperous city."

Since the beginning of the year, there have been 8,686 thefts in San Francisco, not including 1,962 burglaries and 2,298 motor vehicle thefts, according to the latest available crime stats

This year alone, retailers such as Aldo, J.Crew and Madewell announced they were closing their stores at the San Francisco Centre. This follows a trend of major stores who have fled the Northern California city, leaving malls with major vacancies, according to a report. The North Face and Macy's also closed down at the beginning of 2024, and Zara is expected to follow suit in 2025. 

The governor's office pointed to violent and property crime being down the first quarter of this year when compared to last year.

The $80 million cut from the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is intended to eliminate 4,600 beds across 13 prisons. Newsom also proposed slashing law enforcement training and cutting $4.4 million from county probation departments.

The California State Legislature, meanwhile, is pushing against some of the proposed cuts regarding public safety, particularly a $15 million decrease from the DOJ, Department of Finance deputy director for external affairs H.D. Palmer told Fox News Digital. 

"These proposed reductions are unallocated reductions, meaning that it would be up to the department as to how they would be implemented," Palmer said. 

The legislature has until June 15 to approve the budget, which would go into effect in July.

Patronis attributed Florida's financial success, in part, to Newsom's failures as governor to ensure Californians feel safe.

"The one that you have to hold responsible is Gavin Newsom," he said. "When you create a safe environment, people want to relocate their businesses."


"You created an environment [in California] where … you are defunding the police and defunding law enforcement. So look, in the state of Florida, we've taken advantage of their poor governance," Patronis continued. "We have offered incentive bonuses. We've actually recruited law enforcement officers for the state of Florida with a $5,000 recruitment bonus. And we have gotten law enforcement officers from all 50 states."


Patronis also worried about Newsom's future ambitions.

"I think he would love to be president one day … He could just lie straight through his teeth like nobody I've ever seen on camera," he said. "I would hate to ever see somebody with that type of a deliberate mindset to be in charge of our country's economy." 

Fox News' Hannah Panreck and Jamie Joseph contributed to this report. 

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