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Governor’s Proposed Budget Includes Technology Funding

It’s far from a final approved act, but Gov. Gavin Newsom’s proposed 2022-2023 Fiscal Year state budget would spend millions to continue existing technology initiatives and begin new projects.

The main entrance to the California Capitol building.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s proposed 2022-2023 Fiscal Year state budget released Monday comes in at $286.4 billion – about 9 percent larger than last year’s model – and includes millions for technology work.

Buoyed by a projected $45.7 billion surplus, Newsom’s proposed budget would outspend the enacted FY 2021-2022 budget of about $262.6 billion. Standard disclaimer: a governor’s proposed budget typically undergoes much reworking and a formal May revision before the constitutional June 15 deadline for the Legislature to approve it. As expected, this budget – which Techwire will further examine in upcoming editions – continues some IT projects enacted or begun last year while proposing additional initiatives. Among areas of interest in Newsom’s Governor’s Budget Summary:

  • Technology modernization solutions: The first round of tech projects funded with $25 million in one-time general fund monies for technology modernization and stabilization funding in the 2021-2022 Fiscal Year budget is expected to start early this year. It’s “aimed at improving the efficiency and effectiveness of state entities,” according to the budget summary. That money provided “initial funding to departments to develop innovative technology solutions.” Proposals from state entities were evaluated via an online portal and those selected “will proceed to a short-term discovery effort to conduct market research, identify potential solutions, and develop a project plan.” The California Department of Technology (CDT), according to the summary, “continues to lead several efforts and collaborate with departments to improve the way Californians interact with government entities and ensure essential services are not interrupted.”
  • Broadband: CDT’s expected to continue working with the California Department of Transportation and a third-party administrator on developing and building a “statewide, open access, middle-mile broadband network,” with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) recommending more locations. Per the summary, the CPUC “anticipates making new last-mile project grants available” this year with state funding via the California Advanced Services Fund and federal funds.
  • Wildfire technology: Newsom proposes $1.8 million in general fund monies with $1.7 million ongoing and seven positions to stand up the state Office of Wildfire Technology Research and Development within the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. The office, which was established last year with the passage of state Senate Bill 109, will “test and provide advice on emerging wildfire mitigation technology.”
  • Tech refresh: The Employment Development Department’s (EDD) area of the proposed budget includes $23.5 million from the general fund and 122 positions for three years, for an information technology branch technology modernization, “to maintain and improve benefit system usability to better serve claimants and remain hardened against fraud,” according to the summary. There’s also $9.4 million from the general fund for cybersecurity resources, to “support cybersecurity and prevention efforts to improve the security and integrity of EDD IT systems, which hold tax data and other personal information.” And there’s $2.1 million from the general fund and 10 positions for three years for an Unemployment Insurance Command Center “that centralizes UI branch management, supports UI data analytics, and enhances training to improve customer service.”
  • California Community Colleges: Here, Newsom proposes $100 million in Prop. 98 general fund monies for “technology modernization and sensitive data protection” – $75 million one-time and $25 million ongoing – “to address modernization of CCC technology infrastructure, including sensitive data protection efforts at the community colleges.” There’s also $1.4 million in ongoing monies from the general fund, in part to aid the CCC Chancellor’s Office on curriculum-adjacent reforms including “technology modernization efforts; and increased state operations capacity for data analysis, research ... .”
  • Firearm Information Technology Modernization: The governor proposes a “$5.2 million, one-time Dealer Record of Sale (DROS) Special Account” that would enable continuing “the planning and development phase of combining and modernizing existing firearms tracking systems.” The state Department of Justice, per the summary, now tracks firearms with “11 unique information technology databases that are antiquated, costly to update, and inefficient at gathering data.” This proposal would add to the $2.4 million one-time DROS Special Account in the 2020 Budget Act to modernize these systems.
Theo Douglas is Assistant Managing Editor of Industry Insider — California.