Sacramento Snapshot: What to Watch for in the Legislature This Year

From a looming budget deficit to tackling AI, here’s what lobbyists in Sacramento are looking at in 2024

California State Capitol DomeThere’s a heavy cloud over Sacramento when legislators return to work in the Capitol this week, one with a $68 billion price tag.

It’s no surprise that the state budget, which the governor will unveil on Jan. 10, is top of mind for lawmakers as they resume work on Wednesday. But the recently announced $68 billion budget deficit California faces only underscores the gravity of the issue.

This deficit, the largest by dollars in state history, has a ripple effect, altering everything from what Gov. Gavin Newsom will propose for the state’s budget down to the success or failure of any proposed legislation that has any fiscal impact.

“That’s the No. 1 thing we’re looking at right now,” Ben Golombek, the executive vice president of the California Chamber of Commerce, said of the budget deficit. “While the (final deficit) number might be different, we’re expecting it to be a substantial deficit. That will certainly color what’s going on in the legislature this year.”

The deficit will drive what the governor suggests in terms of state spending and cuts. And it’ll have the biggest effect on proposed laws in expensive categories, such as education and transportation, said Chris Micheli, a veteran lobbyist in Sacramento.

So with that in mind, what could the legislature tackle this year? We turned to Micheli and Golombek, who keep watchful eyes on the goings on in Sacramento, for a preview.

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