Happy New Year, everyone! Sometimes January is a month that feels like a Monday, but there is a lot of energy and enthusiasm in the air in 2022.
It’s a new year, new laws are taking effect that help people into homes, jobs, and debt-free higher education. With the once-a-decade redistricting almost complete, many of my colleagues and I will welcome new communities and new constituents to represent. And in Sacramento we’re moving into a new—and temporary—workspace while the East Wing of the Capitol, where so much good has been accomplished for the people of California, is replaced by a safer and more accessible building. Please know, wherever my office is, my door is always open to the people of the 39th Senate District!
January marks the 49th anniversary of Roe v Wade, and the very real fear is there won’t be a 50th. I can tell you we are beyond motivated to protect Californians—and all who need abortion services and reproductive health care—from the vicious attacks being made on one of our most basic and personal rights.
Every January, as we celebrate the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I remember the January when he moved his family into a housing project in Chicago to draw attention to the lack of affordable housing. In many ways, it is shameful how far we still have to go on the paths to justice that MLK pursued—and that is also a reminder we need to constantly do better.
January brings new challenges—along with existing ones. And I want to thank everyone for masking up inside the last couple weeks to counter the alarming rise in COVID-19 cases. A couple more weeks, and hopefully, we will have again navigated a treacherous part of this pandemic together.
There’s a lot to look forward to this month and this year, and I will do my best to keep you up to date with all the latest information on bills, the budget (so far the outlook is very good!) district events, and breaking news. And, of course, the occasional photos of Mia and Joey!
Here’s to a great 2022!
The new year is starting with forward progress on two major infrastructure projects in San Diego.
Last month, I joined the San Diego Regional Airport Authority, California State Transportation Secretary David S. Kim, as well as regional and federal leaders, for the groundbreaking of the new Terminal 1, or “T1” as it’s called, nearly a decade in the making.
T1 will eventually deliver 11 additional gates (for 30 in total), new food and retail concessions, an updated baggage handling system, a new parking garage and a new three-lane airport access road. The long-term construction project will also include some key sustainability measures, including additional solar panels and stormwater recycling.
The Airport Authority is partnering with the world-renowned Scripps Institution of Oceanography as part of its climate resilience plan, installing sea level rise sensors in the Bay to track the level of sea level rise moving forward.
Given that our region is a military hub, a strategic port, and a binational and international destination, with travel and tourism serving as a cornerstone of our economy, our airport represents a link between San Diego, the state of California, and the entire world.
(Pictured, left to right: City of San Diego Councilmember Stephen Whitburn, Mayor Todd Gloria, Speaker Emeritus & Regent of the University of California John Pérez, UC San Diego Health CEO Patty Maysent, and Chancellor of the University of California, San Diego Pradeep Khosla)
The other major project now under construction is Phase One of the new UC San Diego Hospital in Hillcrest. This project, which will bring a brand new, state-of-the art hospital and medical campus to our region, is an investment in the lives, health and well-being of all of our communities.
This new facility is about equity in healthcare and continuing to improve the lives of the people and families in the San Diego region.
For more than five decades, UC San Diego Hospital has served our county’s residents. That this comes as we continue to live through the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic is even more important. The pandemic exacerbated the inequities in health care, especially those who needed it most – the members of our community who were essential workers and didn’t have the option to work from home.
That is why I was proud to support a $30 million budget allocation for the development of this new hospital. This new hospital and medical center will house the most advanced science, research and treatment for those who need it, when they need it, located where they need it.
California is now the home to one of the most exciting new tools in the effort to better understand our climate as it changes. Just recently, UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography brought online its groundbreaking new ocean simulator, the Scripps Ocean Atmosphere Research Simulator, or SOARS.
SOARS is the culmination of countless hours of development and input from multiple experts and will serve as the focal point of novel scientific discoveries for decades to come. The simulator is made up of a massive tank capable of holding thousands of gallons of seawater and is capable of generating hurricane force winds. These conditions can be closely controlled and monitored, allowing researchers to study the interactions of wind, water, and sea life like never before.
Data generated by this facility will inform the work of talented researchers like Dr. Kimberly Prather. Dr. Prather is prominent atmospheric chemist at Scripps, where she leads her field in the study of how our oceans influence the way our climate is changing. SOARS will now make it possible for her team to better understand the role that cloud formation plays in cooling the planet.
The simulator is a promising tool in finding solutions to curb global warming and grow our understanding of climate change. Science based decisions are how California is facing the realities of climate change and sea level rise, which is why it was so important to me to secure funding in this year’s state budget for the new Scripps Ocean Research Vessel as well as the ongoing atmospheric rivers research project being conducted at UCSD. It is a point of pride to have such groundbreaking research – which will benefit California and beyond - centered right here in San Diego.
(Photo Courtesy Wade Crowfoot, California Natural Resources Secretary)
Our outdoor spaces – in San Diego and throughout the state of California – received a boost in the amount of $548 million in grants as part of the 2021 State Budget in December. About $25 million of that will be put to use in San Diego County and the City of San Diego to ensure that there is “access for all,” ensuring equity in providing parks and outdoor spaces for everyone in our communities.
According to the California Department of Natural Resources, six in 10 Californians live in areas without enough access to open spaces. The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted our need for outdoor access, especially in our urban core. Our bold budget this year allowed us to begin taking steps to right those inequities, combined with funding from voter-approved Proposition 68, the Drought, Water Parks, Climate, Coastal Protection and Outdoor Access for All Act of 2018.
Team Toni attended the announcement of the historic funding last month, as well as participated in a roundtable with the California Natural Resources Agency, the California Department of Parks and Recreation and U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland. I look forward to working together across all levels of government to ensure there is outdoor access for all.
With the new year comes a new opportunity for businesses that are interested in applying for tax credits and grants. On Monday, January 3, the California Competes Tax Credits and the California Competes Grants Program application period opens, with $140 million available tax credits and $120 million in grant funding.
These programs allow companies to compete for tax credits based on factors including projected jobs created, average wage and economic impact. The goal is to bring business to California where they can stay and grow.
There are webinars to assist you with the application.
- January 5, 2022: Details and Registration
- January 13, 2022: Details and Registration
- January 18, 2022: Details and Registration
The final deadline is Monday, January 24, 2022 at 11:59 (PST).
The online application can be accessed here starting January 3.
Visionary civil-rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., along with so many champions of equity that we owe gratitude to for advancing the pursuit of racial, social, and economic justice, are foremost in our minds as the Senate begins this next year of our legislative session. Protecting the rights of all Californians – regardless of who you are, where you come from, or who you love – remains a top priority.
Deanna Spehn Day
(Team Toni Staff joins County Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer, former Senator Christine Kehoe and Deanna’s husband Richard in celebrating Deanna Spehn Day)
December 7, 2021, was a special day in San Diego County, as we celebrated the first honorary “Deanna Spehn Day.”
I've had the privilege of knowing and working with Deanna for years and deeply appreciate her decades of commitment to our community, and her endless knowledge of policy and history. Deanna has been a tireless advocate at the city and state government level, and is a well-known and well-respected member of our community. Deanna served as policy director for former Senator Christine Kehoe and helped establish the San Diego River Conservancy, and later joined my staff and has worked with me in my roles as Assembly Speaker and Senate President pro Tempore. She has been integral in my work on climate legislation, transportation issues, workers’ rights, agricultural issues, and open spaces. Our region truly is better because of Deanna’s service and dedication. Thank you to County Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer for recognizing Deanna’s work with a proclamation in her honor, and congratulations Deanna.
Thank You, Andrea Tevlin
It was my privilege to honor Andrea Tevlin, who retired from her role as the Independent Budget Analyst in November. Andrea wasn’t elected to this role, but she agreed to take on a role that had never existed before – to provide transparency and trust during a difficult time in our City’s history.
The transition from the City Manager form of government to Strong Mayor form was synonymous with Andrea Tevlin’s arrival in San Diego and the creation of a permanent Office of the Independent Budget Analyst. I was serving as a City Councilmember at the time, and Chair of the Budget and Finance Committee, which was responsible for setting up the IBA’s office and recruiting the first ever IBA.
She exceeded the anticipations of what we envisioned for the IBA role and San Diego is in a stronger place because of her leadership. I wish you all the best in retirement Andrea!
Team Toni Holiday Toy Donations
The holiday season always reminds me of all I have to be grateful for—and it’s always an important time for my team and I to make the season bright for those in need.
Our District Office team partnered with San Diego-based non-profit Home Start’s “Adopt-A-Family” program, to deliver toys for children during the holiday season. In total, 120 families were able to 'shop' for donated gifts, including Candace, who I happily joined as she searched for the perfect toys for her daughter. Home Start has served our communities for decades, and is dedicated to child abuse prevention and providing evidence-based family strengthening services.
Thank you Home Start staff for all you do.
Social Media Corner
What were the top-performing social posts from 2021? Here’s a look.