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The last few weeks have been one of the most productive times the Legislature has ever had. While there is still much to accomplish before we adjourn in September, I wanted to share with you some highlights of the work that’s been done so far.
In June, the Legislature and Governor approved a balanced budget that includes $2.4 billion for housing and homelessness, record funding for education, a $460 million tax cut for small businesses, funding to make health care more affordable for middle class families, and the highest ever level of reserves—$19.4 billion—to help weather the next economic downturn. We also expanded California’s vital Earned Income Tax Credit, providing a $600 million tax cut for lower-income working families. Several key projects in our region received funding, including $6.13 million to stabilize the Del Mar Bluffs, $5 million for an environmental assessment of a suicide barrier on the San Diego-Coronado Bridge, $6.7 million for the Homeless Youth Emergency Services and Housing Program, and $8.2 million to restore the Botanical Building in Balboa Park.
Use of Force Reform
This week we addressed one of the state’s biggest challenges by passing AB 392 to reform use of force laws and end preventable deaths without jeopardizing the safety of law enforcement officers. It took several months and many difficult discussions, but I am proud to have been part of the effort with my colleague Assemblymember Shirley Weber, law enforcement, victims’ families and advocates, and all who joined in finding this path forward on reforming the use of force.
Safe Water Funding
Solving California’s water crisis has been one of our top priorities. It’s also been one of our toughest challenges. We had to look at how to provide ongoing funding for the safe water communities need without any burdensome taxes or charges on working Californians or on our farming community. And we had to make sure we prevented any special breaks for those who pollute our drinking water. This week we passed SB 200, which allocates $130 million in ongoing funding to ensure communities throughout our state that suffer from groundwater pollution and a lack of municipal water supplies have safe and affordable drinking water.
Wildfire Prevention & Response
California faces increasingly devastating wildfires. Without action, we also face a number of untenable scenarios including rate increases, disruptions with power delivery and major uncertainty for victims of the 2017 and 2018 fires. That’s why the Legislature recently approved AB 1054 - and Governor Newsom is expected to sign in short order. Under AB 1054, utilities will be required to invest $5 billion to prevent future fires by updating their infrastructure for safety. In addition, a new safety board will issue certification to utilities. This certification will allow a utility to draw from a newly established fund to cover the costs of future wildfires. The fund will include $10.5 billion in contributions from the utility shareholders and $10.5 billion from an existing surcharge on electric bills. We also took on the corporate culture of utilities by tying executive compensation and bonuses to safety.
So that's some of the activity that has made for a very busy few weeks in Sacramento—I’ll keep you updated as the session goes forward!
Senator, 39th District