The Toni Times | April 2024

April 1, 2024

Note from Toni

 

 

Thanks for opening up the Note from Toni. I want to share with you that this will be our last newsletter, as I have decided to leave the Senate early in order to follow Taylor Swift on her remaining Eras Tour concert dates, including the concerts in France next month. 

The fact that today is April 1st, and because Dolly is the only person I would ever really follow on a global tour, should help you realize I am only kidding, of course! And speaking of France, that may be where the April Fools’ Day tradition began way back in the 1500s. No one seems to know the true origins, but “April Fools” may have evolved from the French equivalent of “April Fishes” referring to the very young and gullible. I think this month maybe I’ll skip the April Fools (Sorry Taylor!) and instead try out some April fishes at the Tuna Harbor Dockside Market!

April normally brings about tax collection day on the 15th, but San Diego County residents have received a filing extension because of the storms we faced earlier in the year. There’s more about that—including a reminder about filing for the very important California Earned Income Tax Credit (CalEITC)—later in the newsletter. 

It was a proud moment for me last month when I was honored as one of the bipartisan Legislative Women’s Caucus Women of the Year, and my efforts to establish the CalEITC were highlighted. This program puts money back in the hands of working families and local businesses, and I will always work to make sure everyone who is eligible gets the tax credit. 

In the Capitol, my Senate colleagues and I have been working to take early actions that shrink the budget shortfall California is facing. By taking these early actions, we can make both the current budget deficit and the projected 2024-25 deficit more manageable. Taking these actions and carefully using the state’s “Rainy Day Fund” will help us weather this challenge and prepare for future ones while still protecting the progress we have made for Californians. We’ll have a better idea of the scope of the challenge next month, when the Governor releases his revised budget on May 15th, which will include an updated revenue forecast.

Ramadan continues this month until Eid al-Fitr, which falls on April 9th, and Passover runs from April 22nd to the 30th this year. To all who are observing these holidays, it is my dearest hope that you and your family are surrounded by peace.

Finally, Spring means baseball is back, and this year, Jen and I are once again rooting for the Padres to go all the way—no fooling!

Thanks for reading,

Toni

 

Legislative Update – Two New Health Policy Bills!

 

 

 

April is a busy month in the legislature – our policy and budget committees are hard at work considering bills and funding proposals. In this challenging budget year, the Senate is committed to using our resources as efficiently as possible to help the Californians most in need.

This year, I’ve introduced two bills focused on health policy, which will be heard in the Senate Health Committee this month. 

  • Senate Bill 1213 would raise the threshold for the Every Woman Counts (EWC) program and the Breast and Cervical Cancer Treatment Program (BCCTP) from 200% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) to 300% FPL, allowing more people to access life-saving cancer screenings and treatment. Read more about SB 1213 here
     
  • SB 1428 would prevent gaps in health insurance coverage by allowing individuals with qualifying life events to sign up for a new health insurance plan 60 days before or 60 days after that event.

I look forward to updating you on my bills as they are heard by policy committees and continue to move through the legislative process.

  

Updated Tax Filing Information

 

 

The Internal Revenue Service and California Franchise Tax Board have extended the deadline to file and pay 2023 taxes for San Diego County residents due to the severe storms our region experienced. The new deadline is June 17th, 2024 – but remember, the earlier you file, the earlier you can access tax credits you may be eligible for like the CalEITC. I created the CalEITC when I was Speaker of the Assembly, and have worked to expand the program over the years to help more Californians struggling to make ends meet. The amount of the tax credit, which ranges from $285 to $3,529, depends on income and family size. Wage earners must have an income of no more than $39,950 to quality. Residents can find more information about the tax credit and see if they qualify at caleitc4me.org.

  

California Dream for All Update

 

 

Last month I noted that the California Housing Finance Agency (CalHFA) announced that it will be administering an additional round of applications for the California Dream For All (DFA) Shared Appreciation Loan Program, an initiative I created in 2022.

The program provides first-time homebuyers with a loan of up to 20% of the home purchase price to be used as a down payment and/or closing costs assistance, up to $150,000. The state will be repaid the loan plus a share of the home’s appreciation when the home is sold again, and the repayment would go into a revolving fund to allow other future homebuyers to take advantage of the program.

A total of $220 million has been allocated for the current round of loans. CalHFA will be using a randomized selection process to issue DFA vouchers, which will be valid for 90 days. The registration portal will be available from April 3-29, 2024. 

For eligibility criteria and application details go to: calhfa.ca.gov/dream

 

Transgender Day of Visibility and Day of (No) Silence

 

 

On March 18th, the Senate adopted SR 70, which I authored in partnership with the Legislative LGBTQ+ Caucus, proclaiming March 31st, 2024 as Transgender Day of Visibility and designating March 18th-22nd  as Transgender Week of Visibility in the Capitol. The resolution affirms the Senate’s commitment to promoting awareness, inclusivity, and equity for the Two-Spirit, Transgender, Gender Nonconforming or Nonbinary, or Intersex (2STGNCI) communities statewide. (“2S” stands for Two-Spirit, an umbrella term across Indigenous cultures for a person who embodies both male and female spirits within them.”)

There are over 300,000 2STGNCI individuals in California and over a million nationwide, many of who experience systemic prejudice, discrimination, hate, and violence, including over 30 fatal attacks in the U.S last year. Despite significant contributions to society, they encounter disproportionate barriers to healthcare, education, employment, and safety. Across the country, there have already been over 500 anti-trans bills introduced in state legislatures this year, seeking to block 2STGNCI people from receiving basic healthcare, education, legal recognition, and the right to exist.

Through the day and week of visibility, the Senate strove to uplift and support our 2STGNCI residents and affirm their right to live visibly, openly, authentically, and unapologetically, without exception, and without fear.

In addition, this month students across the state and nation will participate in GLSEN’s annual Day of (No) Silence. Every April, LGBTQ+ students and allies go through the school day without speaking, ending the day with Breaking the Silence rallies to bring attention to ways their schools and communities can become more inclusive. 

I applaud the efforts of the Transgender Day of Visibility and the Day of (No) Silence to make the public aware of the inequalities and injustices faced by LGBTQ+ communities.

    

Around the District

 

 

For far too long, San Diego’s communities, beaches, businesses and residents have been impacted by sewage pouring into the Tijuana River Valley. I applaud U.S. Senator Laphonza Butler for engaging on this important issue and visiting this facility to see firsthand what our local communities have been dealing with on a daily basis. We will need federal, state and local partners to work together to develop innovative and timely solutions for this crisis.

 

 

My parents instilled a love of reading and public libraries at an early age. Our library cards were prized possessions. Libraries are vital to communities providing free access to information and resources, while also being a safe space for children and adults alike. I was so honored to receive the California Library Association’s Presidential Award.

 

 

In celebration of International Women’s Day, I joined Girls Scouts San Diego to talk about the importance of mentoring the next generation of women leaders. Girls Scouts supports the ambitions, cultivates the talents, and develops the skills of girls to be leaders in their communities. They are creating a world where all women and girls are valued and respected.

 

 

Celebrating International Women's History Month with British Consul General Emily Cloke and an exceptional group of women leaders in business, military, education, the media, and beyond was both empowering and inspirational. They are the embodiment of this year’s theme to “inspire inclusion.”

 

 

I was pleased to get the chance to speak with the Agricultural Council of California about issues impacting the Ag industry, such as climate change and water storage. I’ve worked to support this key California industry in the legislature, and I’ll continue to prioritize collaboration with farmers and growers.

 

Last month, I joined business leaders from across the state for the California Chamber of Commerce’s Board Meeting, where we discussed their work keeping California’s economy strong as the 5th largest economy in the world!

 

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