What Others Are Saying: Senate’s COVID-19 Recovery Proposals

May 12, 2020

SACRAMENTO – Earlier today, Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins (D-San Diego), along with Senators Holly J. Mitchell (D-Los Angeles), Steven Bradford (D-Gardena), and Robert M. Hertzberg (D-Los Angeles), unveiled the Senate Democratic Caucus’ proposal for the state budget and California’s economic recovery.

The budget approach aims to keep the budget balanced over a multi-year period through pragmatic spending decisions, use of reserves and other traditional solutions, and federal support. Senate Democrats also are proposing two specific recommendations that would aid California in rebounding from the deep economic impacts of the COVID-19 health crisis. 

The proposals are the product of the Democratic Caucus Working Group on Economic Recovery, which is co-chaired by Senators Bradford and Hertzberg. The other members of the working group include Senators Jim Beall (D-San Jose), Senator Maria Elena Durazo (D-Los Angeles), Cathleen Galgiani (D-Stockton), Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge), Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley), and Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont).

Read below statements of support from a wide cross-section of various industry groups, labor unions, and state leaders:


“The COVID-19 pandemic is devastating our economy. A swift recovery plan is needed now more than ever, and it’s time to think big and outside-the-box. As a trained tax expert, I have seen first-hand how such strategies can bend the ‘financial curve’ and the concept of tradeable tax credits and vouchers is innovative and should be fully explored.”

Fiona Ma

California State Treasurer



“Workers aren’t working. Rents are due. Families are in crisis. I’m looking forward to working with Pro Tem Atkins to create a safety net for California’s working families.”

Robbie Hunter

President, State Building and Construction Trades Council of California



“In the midst of this unprecedented crisis, California’s working people demand bold leadership. Today’s State Senate proposal to invest in real economic recovery, protect renters and address the devastating budget shortfall caused by COVID-19 shows our leaders in California are stepping up to meet the monumental challenges before us. We applaud Senate leadership for taking this bold step and we look forward to working with legislators in the coming days and weeks on strengthening worker protections, fighting for federal relief and laying the groundwork for an equitable recovery that puts workers and families first.”


Art Pulaski

Executive Secretary-Treasurer, California Labor Federation



“The Senate’s bold proposals come at a decisive moment in our history as a state. Layoffs have thrown working families into impossible situations, facing hunger, homelessness, and loss of healthcare at the worst possible time. Our communities are struggling, and those communities hardest hit by the virus because we are on the front lines - immigrant communities, communities of color, and black, white, brown, and API working families - are also the most economically devastated.

“We have a clear choice: we can stick together and take care of each other, or we can continue on the same path we have been on, of greater and greater inequality and injustice.

“The most important thing that we can do is to support those among us who are struggling. We need a Recovery for All. This is not only the compassionate choice, but the wise choice - the one that will put us back on the path to recovery the fastest and help us become a more resilient and just society.

“SEIU members support strong and innovative state actions as one part of the solution, and the Senate’s proposal is a significant step forward. But the federal government must also act, and act now, to support our communities while we care for the sick, support the distressed, and extend a hand to those in need - and California also needs to ask for a stronger contribution from the state’s richest individuals and its powerful and wealthy corporations.”

Bob Schoonover

President, SEIU California and SEIU Local 721



“The California Small Business Association, on behalf of our 60 affiliate organizations representing over 200,000 small businesses in California, applauds the Senate Democrats budget approach in response to the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic and the devastating impacts on our state budget. The loss of life from this crisis is heartbreaking beyond words and the shutdown of our economy necessary to fight the spread has left many small businesses fearful they may never be able to recover. The Senate Democrat’s bold proposed budget approach provides rent stabilization and an Economic Recovery Fund that will help California restore our economic security and lead us to better days in the future. This plan demonstrates the innovative problem solving that makes California great. We look forward to working with the Legislature and the Governor to restore the California economy, protect jobs and help our great small businesses get to work again!”

Betty Jo Toccoli

President, California Small Business Association



“Senate Pro Tem Toni Atkins’ and California Senate Democrats’ bold economic recovery plan helps to safeguard vital public safety services, as firefighters continue to respond to COVID-19 and prepare for the upcoming wildfire season.”

Brian Rice

President, California Professional Firefighters



“The California Federation of Teachers applauds the effort to reject austerity measures at a time when our public schools cannot afford budget cuts. Our schools will need more resources, not cuts, in order to safely re-open and for our communities to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. Continuing our collective push for a $1 trillion assistance plan from the federal government will bolster efforts like these to provide our public education system with the resources we need to keep our students and school workers safe.”

Jeff Freitas

President, California Federation of Teachers



“The Western Center on Law and Poverty supports the Senate budget approach as the best path forward through these difficult budget times. The Senate approach preserves critical safety net and health care programs at a time when more Californians than ever are relying on them. Importantly, the Senate plan addresses the impending eviction crisis with a balanced approach that protects tenants from eviction while ensuring that property owners are compensated for past due rent. The Senate’s approach protects the most vulnerable and avoids the deep cuts which will set back our economic recovery for years to come.”

Western Center on Law and Poverty



“During these unprecedented times, we appreciate the Senate Pro Tem’s creative effort to help tenants and rental property owners.  The California Apartment Association is committed to working with the Senate to refine this voluntary program to ensure tenants can stay in their homes and rental property owners – especially mom and pop owners – are able to continue to pay their bills and their employees.”

Thomas Bannon

CEO, California Apartment Association



“We applaud the leadership of the California State Senate’s efforts to develop innovative approaches to finance economic development programs and projects to help expedite California’s recovery from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. As a leading syndicator of federal housing tax credits and an active participant in the California housing tax credit sector, we appreciate the human, social and economic impacts of COVID-19 on California, and believe that the idea of a tradeable state income tax voucher merits consideration. If the State were to issue such a security that could be bought and sold in the secondary market, we expect that there would be strong interest from institutions and other investors.”

John C. Carson Jr.

President, Raymond James Financial

(Raymond James Financial is an independent investment bank and financial services company providing financial services to individuals, corporations and municipalities)



“We understand the California Senate is considering plans to develop a tax voucher program to accelerate the State’s recovery from the pandemic and to fuel the future growth of its economy. Ramirez & Co., Inc., an active participant in the municipal market in both California and the nation, strongly commends and encourages all efforts of policy makers to be creative and innovative during this time of stress on state and local governments. While the market will of course reserve final judgement until a program is fully developed, the concept of creating California tax vouchers that are widely marketable can only be a positive development for California and will likely be viewed favorably by market participants.”

Samuel A. Ramirez

President and CEO, Ramirez & Co., Inc.

(Ramirez & Co., Inc. is a nationwide, full-service investment bank, brokerage and advisory firm serving the needs of thousands of individual investors, business owners and top institutional investors, corporations and government agencies in the U.S.)



“We appreciate the Pro Tem’s efforts and other Senate leaders to stabilize the California budget and stimulate its economy. We look forward to understanding the details and fully support all efforts to maintain the jobs of our employees and subcontractors and increase housing production in the state.”

Dan Dunmoyer

President & CEO, California Building Industry Association



“California faced serious affordable housing challenges before the COVID-19 emergency, and this crisis has only exacerbated these issues, especially for the state’s most vulnerable households. We thank Senate Democrats for their leadership and for the creativity of their new proposal. It's clear we all share the same goal: Maintaining housing stability requires significant new state assistance to lower-income households struggling to pay rent—while also ensuring California’s already limited supply of affordable housing can continue to operate during and after this crisis.” 

Ray Pearl

Executive Director, California Housing Consortium



“In the midst of an unprecedented public health and economic crisis, the Urban Counties of California (UCC) greatly appreciates the Senate Democrats’ commitment to a budget that responsibly manages the shortfall, while avoiding additional harm to the state’s recovery and doing right by our most vulnerable populations. Urban counties are on the front lines of the COVID response and we will need support from the state and federal government to continue our efforts to ensure the public’s health and safety. Creative approaches like the Senate’s plan and the Administration’s elevating the state’s needs to Congress are necessary to get to recovery. We look forward to continuing in partnership with the state and federal government as we work together on budget solutions that protect our communities.”

Urban Counties of California



“We are grateful for Pro Tem Toni Atkins and her colleagues’ bold vision and out-of-the-box proposal designed to stabilize California’s budget now, stimulate our economy going forward, and move us closer to a California with homes, health, and prosperity for all.  We look forward to working together to ensure this proposal helps create a strong, stable housing landscape for everyone, particularly people experiencing homelessness, lower-income households, and the affordable housing providers so essential to an equitable recovery.”

Lisa Hershey

Executive Director, Housing California



“COVID-19 has plunged California into uncharted waters and our fiscal recovery will require new ways of thinking, governing and doing business. We appreciate the creativity showcased by Senate Democratic Caucus leaders in crafting a proposal featuring responsible budget choices that avoids becoming part of the problem or hampering future recovery.

“We look forward to learning more details of the Senate plan and working through the mechanics of the proposal. As California looks to recover from the many COVID-19 impacts on our economy and budget, we can’t ignore the critical role that California’s counties play in protecting public health and providing safety net services for vulnerable residents.

“The County-State partnership is critical to mitigating these fiscal impacts and maintaining and enhancing capacity in these essential programs. Every County needs funding to ensure our public health departments can access testing and coordinate trained workers to track and isolate cases as restrictions are lifted. The same goes for the much-needed social services and health workers protecting the at-risk elderly, youth, and disabled populations, while also providing shelter and services to those experiencing homelessness. CSAC looks forward to a continued, robust county-state partnership working with the Legislature, the Administration and Governor Newsom.”

California State Association of Counties



“UFCW welcomes the proposals from the California Senate to promote an economic recovery that is based on a collective investment in a better future, not an austerity budget that cuts funding to struggling Californians. Workers across this state are in crisis; this is not a time for small fixes. We cannot allow this recession to deepen economic inequality or cause more pain to those already struggling. We need our leaders to fight alongside us for a California where all families can meet their basic needs.

“We look forward to working with the Legislature and the Administration to ensure that working people are front and center in shaping our economic recovery and that we prioritize good jobs and safe communities as the path forward. We thank the Pro Tem for sharing our values and laying out a vision for how to rebuild from this crisis together.”

Amber Baur

Executive Director, UFCW Western States Council



“The Senate’s budget and economic recovery proposals are exactly the kind of bold and creative approaches we need to meet this moment of unprecedented economic disruption. Just as importantly, the Senate’s proposals reinforce the value that must guide California’s decisions through this crisis and the recovery: to do no greater harm to people and families already suffering. 

“The COVID-19 pandemic and its economic devastation have fallen hardest on the Californians who can least afford it; the lowest-wage workers have lost their jobs and their healthcare, the most marginalized families are struggling the most to hold on to their housing, too many children are hungry and afraid.  We strongly support the Senate’s focus on stabilizing families and preventing homelessness through renter relief.  

“The unprecedented surge in demand for CalFresh, CalWORKs and other county human services programs in the past few weeks shows these programs are already vital bulwarks against the worst effects of this crisis and will be crucial to helping families weather the longer-term economic storm.  

“The legislature’s leadership and Governor Newsom’s spotlight on needed federal support for state and local governments demonstrate California learned the most important lesson from the Great Recession: cutting safety net programs only exacerbates human pain and prolongs the economic downturn.  

“CWDA looks forward to working with the legislature and the administration to ensure California’s response to the current crisis strengthens opportunities for children and families to thrive.” 

Frank J. Mecca

Executive Director, County Welfare Directors Association of California



“We applaud Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins & the Working Group on Economic Recovery for today’s budget approach that prioritizes a balanced budget that sustains vital programs when we need them most. COVID-19 has exposed how many Californians are just one paycheck away from hunger and need help making ends meet. During this pandemic, food banks have seen first-hand the critical nature of human service programs that provide food and other basic assistance that helps California mitigate harm and accelerate economic recovery.”

Andrew Cheyne

Director of Government Affairs, California Association of Food Banks



“Children's Law Center of California is heartened by the Senate’s strong commitment to the well-being of California’s residents, including the 60,000 children and youth in the foster care system. The proposed budget and economic recovery proposals put forth by California’s leaders will help to stabilize the most vulnerable among us and prevent even more Californians from falling into homelessness.   

“With the largest foster care population in the nation, it is critically important for California that programs serving vulnerable children and families are able to keep their doors open so they can, in turn, continue to support families and keep children safe and healthy. Now more than ever, children and families facing economic hardship need access to essential safety net services to ensure parents can meet the basic needs of their children. Rent stabilization and help for small businesses and non-profits will prevent unnecessary family separation during this crisis.

“CLC looks forward to working with the Legislature and the Administration to ensure that we can continue to serve the Californians who need our support most during this challenging time.”

Leslie Starr Heimov​​​​​​​

Executive Director, Children’s Law Center of California


“We welcome the creative approaches that the Senate leadership is taking to reach a balanced budget and, in particular, to bring stability for those who are renters and are being dramatically impacted by the pandemic and at risk of losing their homes.  We are hopeful that creative approaches will lead to solutions that do not ask those who have borne much of the brunt so far, like persons with disabilities, the elderly, persons of color and all who are low income.  Our budget should not ask them to take more hits in a difficult budget.  We stand ready to work with the Senate, Assembly and Governor to adopt a budget that does not do more harm.”

Curtis L. Child
Legislative Director, Disability Rights California


“Across California there are approximately 68,000 renters that are persons with developmental disabilities.  The Senate’s proposal for renter and landlord stabilization will bring relief and protections to many people from this vulnerable population that have been impacted by COVID-19.”

Carlos Flores

Executive Director, San Diego Regional Center for Persons with Developmental Disabilities  




Toni G. Atkins is President pro Tempore of the California Senate. Having previously served as Speaker of the California Assembly, she began her tenure in the Senate in 2016. As Senator for District 39, she represents the cities of San Diego, Coronado, Del Mar and Solana Beach. Website of President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins: www.senate.ca.gov/Atkins

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