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Loaded With “Comeback” Support, Lawmakers OK California’s $267 Billion Budget

Although California lawmakers approved the budget in time for the state reopening, “and while we proudly embrace the California comeback, this last year reminds us that we need to plan for the unexpected,” said Gov. Newsom.

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The California Legislature approved Gov. Gavin Newsom’s $267 billion state budget for fiscal year 2021-22. It is packed with support for programs and policy initiatives intended to drive California’s economy out of the downturn caused by the global COVID-19 pandemic. 

Cash that will be pumped into the general fund accounts for the major share of the budget, with a total of $96 billion directed to K-12 education and community colleges. That amount is based on minimum funding requirements set by Proposition 98, a ballot initiative that voters approved in 1998. 

Although California lawmakers approved the budget in time for the state reopening, “and while we proudly embrace the California comeback, this last year reminds us that we need to plan for the unexpected,” said Gov. Newsom.

“We must maintain a strong fiscal foundation that does not overcommit the state to long-term spending it cannot afford, which could lead to future cuts,” he said.

Newsom first proposed the budget in January of this year, and added some revisions in May, including funding to address issues affecting Black and Brown communities. Although lawmakers say they aim to prioritize long-term issues such as childcare and public health, Newsom says he wants to focus on reviving the job market by supporting the tourism industry and small businesses to amend California’s economic crisis. 

Newsom announced the full reopening of the state on June 15 at Universal Studios Hollywood as nearly half of California’s population is fully vaccinated. The state also lifted COVID-19 restrictions, including social distancing, mask requirements, and county tiers in most public settings statewide. The state continues to offer cash prizes to newly vaccinated residents as part of its “Vax for the Win” incentive program which started this month.

The state’s fiscal year starts, “with the largest surplus in California history,” Newsom said. “We’re using this once-in-a-generation opportunity to create an economic recovery that will leave nobody behind – with money going directly back to Californians, the nation’s largest small business relief programs, and unprecedented investments to address California’s most persistent challenges such as homelessness, climate change and equity in our education system.”

Assemblymember Chris Holden (D-Pasadena), who is a member of the California Legislative Black Caucus, shared the governor’s optimism about the newly approved budget. He highlighted the economic inequality accelerated by COVID-19 and its impact on low-income families in California. Holden expressed confidence that the budget makes investments in priorities that will address the state’s most important issues.

“This time last year, we feared the pandemic would destroy our economy and leave the state in a deep hole,” said Holden referring to the Legislature’s decision.

“Even though the outlook for beating the virus is in sight, we know families continue to struggle in this pandemic,” he said.

However, since the Legislature approved the budget, “we are in a much better position than we ever thought given the circumstances. We are making robust investments for priority issues including our economic recovery, education, and homelessness while contributing at a record level to our reserves,” said Holden.

Most Democratic lawmakers gave the budget a thumbs up, but some Republicans remained hesitant about the certainty of California’s economic recovery based on the newly approved budget.

Republican lawmakers claim that the state’s budget is a “placeholder budget” used by legislators to take advantage of loopholes in California’s Constitution.

California’s Constitution mandates that the Legislature pass the budget by midnight each year on June 15 — or lawmakers forfeit their salaries.

The day before the state’s reopening, Republican Sen. James Nielsen was vocal about his opposition to the newly approved budget in a Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee meeting. 

“This is a fake budget. It’s a feel-good budget. It’s a ‘let us get paid’ budget. But, what we’re voting on is not going to be the [real] budget,” said Nielsen.

“We already know what they’re voting on today, it’s kind of a fraud on the people to make them think, ‘Oh, look at all these wonderful things we’re getting,’” said Nielsen.

The pushback from Republican lawmakers raised questions about the state’s final budget as Newsom and California legislators negotiate and modify how funds will be allocated.  This process has to be completed by July 1, when the budget goes into effect. 

Last week, Newsom also eliminated executive orders he implemented at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.  New executive orders he signed lifted the stay-at-home order and the county tier system following the approval of the budget and the reopening of the state.

The California Department of Public Health also released a new order that removed restrictions in public spaces, including at schools and during major events.

As of June 15, people in California are no longer required to wears masks or social distance. But state officials recommend that non-vaccinated people still protect themselves in public places to prevent infection.

California Black Media’s coverage of COVID-19 is supported by the California Health Care Foundation.

Business

Don’t Be Chick’n and Try Something Vegan!

What was originally known as Compassion Meals in Sacramento has now rebranded and blossomed into a vegan fried chick’n food truck based at Lake Merritt in Oakland, called Don’t Be Chick’n (DBC). 

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Outside of the Don’t Be Chick’n Food Truck at 277 Grand Ave. in Oakland. Photo by Isabelle Price.

What was originally known as Compassion Meals in Sacramento has now rebranded and blossomed into a vegan fried chick’n food truck based at Lake Merritt in Oakland, called Don’t Be Chick’n (DBC). 

Owned and operated by Nkoyo Adakama, the food truck that began operations July 3 serves vegan soul food based around the star theme of the truck, the vegan fried chick’n. 

While Adakama’s start in the food industry was rough due to racial attacks against her and her business in Sacramento, Don’t Be Chick’n seems to have received great traction in Oakland. Before the food truck, DBC had pop-up locations at New Parkway Theatre and Au Lounge on Broadway that were such a success that they led the way for the food truck to make its debut. 

The prices for the food are a bit on the higher end and the wait, not including the line, for the food is roughly 30 minutes. However, if you are looking to support a business owned by a Black woman and want to try some solid vegan soul food while enjoying Lake Merritt, I would recommend going to this food truck. Adakama’s food reminds me of a vegan dupe for Raising Canes.  

The truck is located at Lake Merritt, usually at 277 Grand Ave. in Oakland, generally from about 2:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. Both the location, hours and menu may vary during the week, so it is important to follow their Instagram account for frequent updates. For any questions or catering requests, they can be emailed at contactus@dontbechickn.com. 

All information for this article was gathered from Don’t Be Chick’n Instagram and website and an Oaklandside story. 

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Business

August is National Black Business Month

August 1st kicks off National Black Business month. And although Black businesses should be supported year-round, all month long people across the country are encouraged to recognize and support Black-owned businesses. 

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Black woman owned business/Photo Credit: Isabelle Price

August 1st kicks off National Black Business month. And although Black businesses should be supported year-round, all month long people across the country are encouraged to recognize and support Black-owned businesses. 

The origins of National Black Business Month can be traced back to 2004 when Frederick E. Jordan teamed up with John William Templeton, president and executive editor of eAccess Corp., a scholarly publishing company, to have August recognized as National Black Business Month. 

Jordan and Templeton also encouraged local government officials, community leaders to address structural barriers that adversely and disproportionately impact Black-owned businesses—namely a lack of access to capital. 

“It’s important that we take this time not just to promote Black Business Month, but support Black businesses,” said Ronald Busby, president and CEO of the U.S. Black Chamber of Commerce.

“As we reopen America, it’s important we acknowledge the wealth gap that exists between Black families and White families has grown. The real way to address the wealth gap through the creation of new black-owned businesses and broad support of those businesses. In order for there to be a Great America, there’s got to be a Great Black America,” he said.

Busby encourages readers to visit the U.S. Black Chamber of Commerce’s website to learn about programming, events and resources available to Black entrepreneurs and businesses. 

Busby also acknowledged the impact the COVID-19 has had on the Black businesses, who he says were hit the hardest. According to a report by the House Committee on Small Business, between February and April 2020 Black business ownership declined more than 40%–which is noted to be the largest decline across any racial group. 

According to the United States Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy there are more than 2.6 million Black-owned businesses in the U.S. Black businesses realized a 34% uptick from 2007-2012. Black-owned firms generate an average of $150 billion dollars in annual receipts.

Firms owned by Black women continue to grow at an exponential rate. According to Forbes  businesses owned by Black businesses grew 67% from 2007 to 2012, compared to 27% for all women, and 50% from 2014 to 2019, representing the highest growth rate of any female demographic during that time frame.

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Bay Area

Nancy Lieberman Congratulates Kaplan and AASEG, continues to support efforts to Bring a WNBA team to Oakland

This week the AASEG (African American Sports and Entertainment Group) has moved forward to secure the exclusive rights to bring a WNBA team to the Oakland Coliseum.

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Nancy Lieberman/ Wikimedia Commons
This week the AASEG (African American Sports and Entertainment Group) has moved forward to secure the exclusive rights to bring a WNBA team to the Oakland Coliseum.
Vice Mayor Rebecca Kaplan was pleased to hear that National Basketball Hall of Famer Nancy Lieberman was pleased too. Both parties had a lengthy conversation back in February, about the business of the WNBA and some of its hurdles. Kaplan told Lieberman the AASEG ( www.aasegoakland.com), and the motion she brought forward received a resounding approval (6-0-2) vote from Oakland City Council members to pursue terms to acquire the City’s 50% interest of the Coliseum Complex.
This critical vote came just three days after the Alameda County Joint Powers Authority unanimously approved a resolution to begin negotiating with the AASEG to bring a WNBA team to Oakland.  With these successive actions, the AASEG can formalize negotiations with City staff toward a Purchase and Sell Agreement for the Coliseum Complex.
Nancy Lieberman is one of professional basketball’s most celebrated female players and an American sports Icon. Nancy truly represents the theme of what is being proposed by the AASEG investment group. The council heard Ray Bobbitt, of AASEG and 97-year-old Gladys Green, present the goal of women leadership and ownership of a WNBA franchise as its primary agenda.Nancy Lieberman has an established record for being a leading advocate and supporter for social and racial equality her entire professional career. She has often credited the African American community, for supporting her and inspiring her possibilities. Now, that she is on the other side of her legend, she wants to pay it forward. Nancy and her business advocate Gary Reeves, said they plan to join a conversation with Ray Bobbitt and Rebecca Kaplan to review a potential alliance soon.

Nancy Lieberman loves the community outreach and civic leaders, who have paved the way for this opportunity. She cited the AASEG for its extensive community support. She said she is looking forward to meeting the AASEG community members and to give high praise and thanks to Rebecca Kaplan for her full-court press-style of support for AASEG, women’s sports, minority businesses, housing and job opportunities for the homeless and formerly incarcerated populations. Lieberman and Gary Reeves, her Bay area-based business advocate, want to meet and work with Gladys Green who is the inspirational leader of the East Oakland community and to congratulate Gay Cobb for the Post News Group’s extensive coverage and the recommendation that AASEG make an offer to purchase the coliseum.

In addition to working as Nancy Lieberman’s business advocate, Gary has been campaigning for support from a Who’s Who list of philanthropists and investors to support a home ownership pledge for those that need their down payments bridged to help them become home owners. During the pandemic his group, along with Lieberman, provided over 1 million dollars in free PPE and clothing for those in under-resourced areas. Oakland was also a benefactor of that program with BPL campuses and the Al Attles Foundation, ACE (Attles Center for Excellence)

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