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Gov. Newsom Signs $308 Billion Budget: Californians to Get ‘Inflation Relief’ Checks of Up to $1050

“California’s budget addresses the state’s most pressing needs and prioritizes getting dollars back into the pockets of millions of Californians who are grappling with global inflation and rising prices of everything from gas to groceries,” said Gov. Gavin Newsom in a statement.

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Gov. Gavin Newsom cited the hardship of inflation and high gas prices as factors in providing the relief, which will reach Californians sometime in the fall.
Gov. Gavin Newsom cited the hardship of inflation and high gas prices as factors in providing the relief, which will reach Californians sometime in the fall.

By Edward Henderson, California Black Media

Around 23 million California residents will receive “inflation relief” checks of up to $1,050 soon. The aid is included in the new budget deal reached by state lawmakers and Gov. Gavin Newsom on Sunday, June 26, 2022.

“California’s budget addresses the state’s most pressing needs and prioritizes getting dollars back into the pockets of millions of Californians who are grappling with global inflation and rising prices of everything from gas to groceries,” said Newsom in a statement.

The checks are designed as tax refunds and will come from the state’s robust $97 billion budget surplus. The total state budget for the next fiscal year (2022-2023) is $308 billion.

The relief payments are based on income, tax-filing status and household size – similar to the stimulus checks sent to Americans by the federal government during the pandemic.

Single taxpayers who earn less than $75,000 a year and couples who file jointly and make less than $150,000 a year will receive $350 per taxpayer.

Those with dependents will receive an additional $350 per child. For example, a couple that earns under $125,000 and has two children qualify for $350 per adult plus $350 for each additional child, up to a total check of $1,050.

Higher income Californians will receive smaller payments. Single taxpayers who make between $75,000 and $125,000 a year and couples who earn between $150,000 and $250,000 will receive $250, plus the same payment for each dependent, up to a maximum of $750 per family.

Single people who earn between $125,000 and $250,000 and couples who earn between $250,000 and $500,000 annually would receive $200 each, plus the same amount for their dependents.

The maximum payment couples in that salary range will receive is $600 per family. Couples who earn above $500,000 and single taxpayers who earn above $250,000 aren’t eligible for the payments.

Checks will be sent via direct deposit or debit cards by late October.

“In the face of growing economic uncertainty, this budget invests in California’s values while further filling the state’s budget reserves and building in triggers for future state spending to ensure budget stability for years to come,” Newsom said.

“In addition, California is doubling down in our response to the climate crisis – securing additional power-generating capacity for the summer, accelerating our clean energy future, expanding our ability to prepare for and respond to severe wildfires, extreme heat, and the continuing drought conditions that lie ahead.”

Other hot button issues addressed in the finalized budget include a $47 billion, multi-year infrastructure and transportation package, $200 million in additional funding for reproductive health care services, and funding for education, universal preschool, children’s mental health and free school meals.

Not everyone was excited about the final negotiated version of the budget. Republicans complained about the limited time they were given to review the package for input.

“Where is the information?” Sen. Jim Nielson (R-Yuba City) asked during the Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee’s brief hearing on Monday. “What are you afraid of?”

Gov. Newsom signed the budget into law on June 30.

The complete California budget can be viewed here.

Activism

The California Department of Aging: There Is Help for Elder Californians

Part of the statewide plan for addressing the Black elder community is to partner with ethnic media organizations to spread the word about the resources that are available to Californians in the advanced phase of their aging process. DeMarois, much like Nevins, acknowledged that a large portion of the state’s plan to reach Black elders is through local churches.

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Sharon Nevins, director of San Bernardino County’s Department of Aging and Adult Services, Cheryl Brown and CDA Director Susan DeMarois talk to a group of community members. CBM staff photo.
Sharon Nevins, director of San Bernardino County’s Department of Aging and Adult Services, Cheryl Brown and CDA Director Susan DeMarois talk to a group of community members. CBM staff photo.

By Aldon Thomas Stiles California Black Media

The St. Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church’s Commission on Social Action held a community meeting on aging last Thursday in San Bernardino with representatives from the California Department of Aging (CDA) and the Bernardino County’s Department of Aging and Adult Services.

Held in the sanctuary, the discussion featured state representatives and Social Action Commission members led by former Assemblymember and Commission Chair Cheryl Brown, who represented the 47th Assembly District in San Bernardino County from 2012 to 2016.

Brown spoke with community members and leaders from San Bernardino and Riverside counties about programs and resources available for elderly Californians and the caregivers who look after them.

“The state has set aside millions of dollars to help older Californians have a better quality of life through the Master Plan for Aging. And caregiving is fourth of the five goals established in the state’s Master Plan for Aging,” Brown told California Black Media.

CDA Director Susan DeMarois also attended the meeting.

CDA administers programs that serve older adults, adults with disabilities, family caregivers, and residents in long-term care facilities throughout the state. It has a $450 million budget and according to its Strategic Plan, CDA’s first objective is to advance Gov. Gavin Newsom’s California Master Plan for Aging.

Newsom’s master plan was introduced as an executive order in the summer of 2019. Conceptualized as a five-point plan, its framework encompasses housing, health, equity, caregiving “that works” and affording aging.

According to DeMarois each point of the governor’s master plan has its own budget and will be implemented over the next eight years.

During the meeting — titled “Lunch, Listen and Learn” — community members expressed their concerns and suggestions specifically regarding how to take care of elderly Black people in the Inland Empire. A major theme of the discussion was ensuring familiar (traditional) modes and channels of communications that were being employed to reach Black elders.

Sharon Nevins, director of San Bernardino County Department of Aging and Adult Services, spoke about ways in which the county has been involved in addressing those concerns.

“We have staff out there in the community, putting information in hands,” said Nevins.

Nevins emphasized the significance of Black churches and their unique influence on Black elders in California.

“We definitely reach out to the churches. We’ve always done that,” Nevins said.

DeMarois hailed San Bernardino as a model for the rest of the state because the city has been “meeting the needs of the whole person.”

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), California was tied with Hawaii in 2019 for the states with the nation’s highest life expectancy at an average of about 81 years.

Riverside County has a life expectancy of 80.3 years and San Bernardino County has a lower expectancy at 78.8 years.

Part of the statewide plan for addressing the Black elder community is to partner with ethnic media organizations to spread the word about the resources that are available to Californians in the advanced phase of their aging process.

DeMarois, much like Nevins, acknowledged that a large portion of the state’s plan to reach Black elders is through local churches.

“It’s multi-pronged,” said DeMarois. “We know in the Black community faith is a proven path.”

One of the organizations mentioned during the community meeting – an organization that DeMarois claims she took note of – is the Inland Empire Pastor’s Association.

DeMarois expressed the need for the state and local agencies to implement “coordinated strategies” to approach challenges facing the state’s aging population.

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California Black Media

Seven Initiatives Qualify for California November Ballot

Special interest groups have raised more than $370 million to convince voters to either pass or reject the initiatives. Over 88% of the money raised is for settling whether two sports betting proposals should be legalized.

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The office of California Secretary of State Dr. Shirley N. Webber has qualified seven ballot initiatives for the November 8 statewide General Election.
The office of California Secretary of State Dr. Shirley N. Webber has qualified seven ballot initiatives for the November 8 statewide General Election.

By Edward Henderson, California Black Media

The office of California Secretary of State Dr. Shirley N. Webber has qualified seven ballot initiatives for the November 8 statewide General Election. Seven is the lowest number of measures to appear on a statewide general election ballot since 2014.

One initiative is Senate Constitutional Amendment 10 (SCA 10). It is asking voters to safeguard a person’s right to reproductive freedom. To qualify for the November ballot, SCA 10 received the required 2/3 supermajority vote in each chamber of the Legislature.

The other six measures initiated by citizen groups are asking voters to decide on sports betting, funding K-12 art and music education, kidney dialysis clinic requirements, income tax to fund zero-emission vehicle projects, and a flavored-tobacco products ban. To be on the ballot, the initiative proponents were required to gather a minimum of 623,212 signatures verified by county elections officials. June 30 was the deadline for the measures to qualify for the November ballot.

Two other measures could have qualified for the ballot but were withdrawn by their sponsors. An initiative to increase the cap on medical malpractice lawsuits was withdrawn when the sponsors reached agreement with the Legislature and Assembly Bill 35 by Assembly Majority Leader Eloise Gómez Reyes and State Senator Tom Umberg, was passed and signed by Gov. Newsom.

An initiative to reduce plastic waste reduction was withdrawn after it was clear that Senate Bill 54 by State Sen. Ben Allen would pass. Gov. Gavin Newsom signed it into law in June.

Assembly Constitutional Amendment 3 (ACA 3), the California Abolition Act, which would have removed a clause in California’s Constitution that allows the practice of involuntary servitude as a means of punishing crime is not on the ballot because, while it passed the Assembly with the required 2/3 vote, it failed to get enough votes in the Senate.

Special interest groups have raised more than $370 million to convince voters to either pass or reject the initiatives. Over 88% of the money raised is for settling whether two sports betting proposals should be legalized.

The following are details on the fall ballot measures.

Proposition 1California Constitutional amendment to prohibit the state from denying an individual’s reproductive freedom

In response to the Supreme Court’s ruling to overturn federal protections for women seeking abortions, California lawmakers proposed a California Constitutional amendment to protect the reproductive freedom of women. Following the Supreme Court’s ruling, Gov. Newsom stated “Abortion is legal in California. It will remain that way. We will not cooperate with any states that attempt to prosecute women or doctors for receiving or providing reproductive care.”

Proposition 26Authorizes new types of gambling

This proposition would allow federally recognized Native American tribes to operate dice games, roulette and sports wagering on tribal lands. On-site wagering at privately operated horse-racing tracks in four specified counties for betters 21 years or older would become legal. Prop 26 also imposes a 10% tax on sports-wagering profits at horse-racing tracks and directs portion of revenues to enforcement and problem-gambling programs.

Proposition 27Allows online and mobile sports wagering

Currently, sports’ betting online is illegal in California. This proposition would allow Californians 21 and older to place bets online through federally recognized Indian tribes and eligible businesses like Draft Kings and FanDuel. Prop. 27 is estimated to increase state revenues by tens of millions of dollars yearly and potentially direct hundreds of millions of dollars in fee revenue to housing services for homeless Californians.

Proposition 28Provides additional funding for arts and music education in public schools

This proposition sponsored by former Los Angeles Unified School District superintendent Austin Butner would require the state to set aside $800 million to $1 billion annually beginning in 2023-24 for arts education in school. A greater proportion of the funds would be allocated to schools serving more economically disadvantaged students.

Proposition 29Requires on-site licensed medical professional at kidney dialysis clinics and other state requirements

This measure requires a physician, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant with six months’ relevant experience to be on site during treatment at outpatient kidney dialysis clinics. It authorizes an exemption for staffing shortages if a qualified medical professional is available through telehealth. Prop 29 prohibits clinics from closing or substantially reducing services without state approval and prohibits clinics from refusing to treat patients based on source of payment. This is the third attempt by SEIU United Health Workers West, a union representing over 100,000 health care workers and patients across the state, to pass the measure. Opponents of Prop 29 cite it would cost tens of millions of dollars annually for clinics to implement.

Proposition 30Provides funding for programs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

Individuals with a personal income of over $2 million would receive a tax increase of 1.75% to raise between $3 billion to $4.5 billion a year to fund greenhouse gas initiatives. A majority of the funds would go toward incentives for Californians to buy zero-emission vehicles and build new electric charging or hydrogen fueling stations. Twenty-five percent of the funds would go toward wildfire fighting and prevention initiatives.

Proposition 31Referendum challenging a 2020 law prohibiting retail sale of certain flavored tobacco products

This proposition sponsored by the tobacco industry aims to overturn Senate Bill 793 signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom in 2020 banning the sale of all flavored tobacco products. A “yes” vote keeps the law and a “no” vote overturns the law.

California ballot measures require only a simple majority of the votes cast to be approved.

As new initiatives enter circulation, fail, become eligible for, or qualify for an election ballot, the Secretary of State’s office will issue status updates. The updates can be found athttps://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/ballot-measures/initiative-and-referendum-status or here.

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Activism

EDITORIAL: Don’t Let Politicians Decide the Future of Journalism – Why We Oppose SB 911

Redirecting the $25 million to advertising or outreach on the many issues these communities now face is the best use of state funds. Create mandates that steer a fairer share of marketing dollars for issues like the drought, housing, wildfires, climate change, or health care to our media sector and that will reach the underserved audiences the state needs to reach, rather than wasting time and money on a costly administrative process in the name of ethnic media.

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As advocates of the ethnic media sector, we work with ethnic media practitioners every day. Among our top objections to SB 911 is that it promotes a one-size-fits all model to local and ethnic journalism.
As advocates of the ethnic media sector, we work with ethnic media practitioners every day. Among our top objections to SB 911 is that it promotes a one-size-fits all model to local and ethnic journalism.

By Regina Brown Wilson and Sandy Close

What could go wrong when politicians in Sacramento decide the future of  journalism?

The California Legislature could soon provide the answer. SB 911 — authored by Senator Steve Glazer – is the subject of a debate on how $25 million in state surplus funds should be distributed to local and ethnic journalism. If it is passed, we believe the bill would drive a stake in the heart of the independent ethnic media sector.

Ethnic media takes pride in being rooted in their communities and sounding an independent advocacy voice — accountable to the communities ​they serve. Back in 1827 the mission statement of Freedom Journal was proudly this: “We wish to plead our own cause, too long have others spoken for us.”

As advocates of the ethnic media sector, we work with ethnic media practitioners every day. Among our top objections to SB 911 is that it promotes a one-size-fits all model to local and ethnic journalism.

In fact, for many decades, most ethnic media have operated as for-profit businesses. You can see on ​the mastheads — Sentinel, Voice, Guardian, Crusader — the call to our communities. Mainstream media has often disparaged ethnic media ​as advocacy media,​without understanding the unique role we play for our readers.

SB 911 is promoting a “nonprofit” model that would expressly forbid ethnic media from endorsing political candidates or lobbying for or against proposed legislation. It would silence ​them!

SB 911 establishes a board of political appointees to administer state money that would be costly and time consuming to set up and would wind up determining the criteria for how government doles out support for local journalism for years to come. Ethnic media might have two representatives on that board. But the majority on the pane​l would have no direct knowledge of the unique role of ethnic media or how ​they work. The last thing ethnic media needs are people with little experience in their communities determining what kind of media those communities need.

This scheme puts ethnic media in a competition to gain the approval of a board of political appointees. ​They would end up dependent on this board. In fact, ​they would end up dependent on grants or government agencies instead of local communities that have long supported ​them.

As currently written, the bill would allow media startups – including many in the nonprofit space – that have operated for only one or two years to qualify for support. This language fails to acknowledge the contributions made by established media that have worked for decades to serve their communities and sustain themselves.

SB 911 shines a spotlight on the dire straits many ethnic media find themselves in, especially following the business shutdowns from the pandemic, inflation, and a possible recession, let alone the demands of adapting to the digital world. But we’re not prepared to greenlight the bill as currently written for the sake of whatever share of the $25 million the board bestows to individual outlets after their own admin costs are met.

We urge the Legislature to consider far more productive ways of supporting the ethnic news sector much as it did with efforts promoting the 2020 Census when it increased the advertising dollars earmarked for ethnic media from $15 million to over $85 million, recognizing that only ethnic media could deliver truly inclusive outreach to the diverse communities that now make up the state.

Redirecting the $25 million to advertising or outreach on the many issues these communities now face is the best use of state funds. Create mandates that steer a fairer share of marketing dollars for issues like the drought, housing, wildfires, climate change, or health care to our media sector and that will reach the underserved audiences the state needs to reach, rather than wasting time and money on a costly administrative process in the name of ethnic media.

The non-profit model works well only for a small number of ethnic media news agencies; they are convenors and informers of community, they fit the category of mission-driven journalism, we applaud them for their work.

But one size does not fit all media, especially given the diversity of ethnic news outlets. Don’t ask ethnic media to transform ​themselves into a model that reduces ​their interdependence with community. “Too long have others spoken for us.” That’s what SB 911 does and why we must oppose it.

About the Authors

Regina Brown Wilson is executive director of California Black Media, the oldest advocacy organization supporting locally-owned Black media.

Sandy Close is director of Ethnic Media Services and former executive director of New America Media/Pacific News Service.

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Photos courtesy of Ella Baker Center, photography by Brooke Anderson
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