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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.

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Activism

Sheriff’s Deputies Skate with Marin City Youth

Sgt. Scotto and Deputy Gasparini, two officers from the Marin County Probation Department, came to interact with the youths and help them learn to skate and play basketball. Sharika Gregory, who hosted the event, really appreciates how Scotto and Gasparini interacted with the kids and said that it made a great difference.

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Top: Scotto lifting Aria, 7, so she can make her basketball shot. Middle: Sgt. Scotto and Dep. Gasparini of the Marin County Probation Department. Bottom: Scotto playing limbo. (Photos by Godfrey Lee)
Top: Scotto lifting Aria, 7, so she can make her basketball shot. Middle: Sgt. Scotto and Dep. Gasparini of the Marin County Probation Department. Bottom: Scotto playing limbo. (Photos by Godfrey Lee)

By Godfrey Lee

The Father’s Day Skating event on Sunday, June 12, at the Golden Gate Village’s Basketball Court in Marin City was a successful event that contributed positively to the relationship between the Marin County Sheriff’s Department and the Marin City community and helped some of the children get to know the officers.

Sgt. Scotto and Deputy Gasparini, two officers from the Marin County Probation Department, came to interact with the youths and help them learn to skate and play basketball. Sharika Gregory, who hosted the event, really appreciates how Scotto and Gasparini interacted with the kids and said that it made a great difference.

During the event, Scotto helped lift Aria, a 7-year-old girl, so she could make a basketball shot into the basket. Later Scotto played limbo with the children and tried his best to go under the rope.

The community generously contributed to the skating event. The Corte Madera Safeway and Costco donated the food. The Costco in Novato gave the skates. The Target in Marin City and the Marin County Probation Department also gave skates and gift cards.

Rev. Stephanie Ryder and the Redwood Presbyterian Church in Larkspur, also donated money to help to buy more skates for the events.

Gregory said that this was a very wholesome event for the community and will continue to host similar events in the future.

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Activism

Advocates Pressure Gov. Newsom to Fund Health Equity, Racial Justice in Final Budget

“Our state boasts a staggering $97 billion budget surplus,” said Ron Coleman, managing director of the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network. “If not now, when? Given the devastating impact of racism on the health and well-being of Californians of color it’s a travesty of the highest order that racial justice isn’t even mentioned in the Governor’s budget proposal,”

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Attendees were encouraged to contact the governor’s office and the Legislature to keep the pressure on them to include the fund.
Attendees were encouraged to contact the governor’s office and the Legislature to keep the pressure on them to include the fund.

By Edward Henderson, California Black Media

On June 8, community leaders, public health advocates and racial justice groups convened for a virtual press event to urge Gov. Gavin Newsom to support the Health Equity and Racial Justice Fund (HERJ Fund).

The initiative supports community-based organizations addressing the underlying social, environmental and economic factors that limit people’s opportunities to be healthy — such as poverty, violence and trauma, environmental hazards, and access to affordable housing and healthy food. Health advocates would also address longstanding California problems related to health equity and racial justice problems.

The fund cleared a significant hurdle last week when the state Legislature included $75 million in their joint budget proposal. This means both the Assembly and Senate support the HERJ Fund and they will go into negotiations with the governor to seek his support to approve it.

“Our state boasts a staggering $97 billion budget surplus,” said Ron Coleman, managing director of the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network. “If not now, when? Given the devastating impact of racism on the health and well-being of Californians of color it’s a travesty of the highest order that racial justice isn’t even mentioned in the Governor’s budget proposal,”

Last Wednesday’s virtual community meeting and press event capped off a series of rallies held by supporters in cities across the state calling on Newsom to make room in his budget for the HERJ Fund.

Coleman facilitated the online event featuring representatives from service organizations speaking about their support for the fund and presenting plans for how the money would be used to support their shared mission of providing services to minority and underserved communities in California.

Jenedra Sykes, a partner at Arboreta Group, spoke about inequalities that exist in funding for smaller grassroots nonprofits and how traditionally larger, white-led nonprofits use state funds to subcontract with grassroots nonprofits to provide services to communities of color at lower costs.

“The faith-based non-profits on the ground have the relationships, the access to those who are most vulnerable and marginalized among us who disproportionately have poorer health outcomes,” said Sykes. “This bill also evens the playing field a bit. Instead of going through the middleman of the established larger non-profits, funding will go directly to the people who are doing the work. The passion, the heart, the skills, the talents are there. It’s about the resources to fund these talents”

Coleman gave attendees an update on the status of the HERJ Fund’s path to inclusion in the state budget.

Now that the state Legislature has included the fund in their spending proposal for Fiscal Year 2022-23 (it was not included in Newsom’s “May Revise”), it must survive negotiations with the governor’s office before the June 15 deadline to finalize the budget.

A final budget needs to be in place by June 30, the last day for the governor to approve.

HERJ Fund supporters remain hopeful that funding for their program will be included in the final budget.

Updated mechanisms about the budget were added to the HERJ Fund’s proposal to alleviate those concerns and supporters of the fund believe that Newsom is out of excuses.

“Our best shot at getting the HERJ Fund in the budget is now. We are hoping that all of you will keep the pressure on the governor to ensure that this becomes a reality,” Coleman said. “If he does care about the intersections of health equity and racial justice then we will see funding.”

Attendees were encouraged to contact the governor’s office and the Legislature to keep the pressure on them to include the fund. You can visit herjfund.org to learn more about the proposal and the effort to include it in the state budget.

Nadia Kean-Ayub, executive director of Rainbow Spaces, shared details about the valuable events and services community-based non-profits provide. She said there is no shortage of families in need who want to participate in their organizations’ programs but, due to limited funding for transportation, many people never access services meant to help them.

“This tells me that when things are created in our communities, they are not making the impact we need in our Black, Brown and API communities,” Kean-Ayub said. “I will continue to fight. To really make this grow, we need the state to understand that the true impact comes from the community and the people who are living these issues and who know how to help them.”

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Bay Area

Community Banking to Community Building

At the heart of our business is the local community bank branch. But a local bank branch, especially in underserved neighborhoods, can be successful only when it fits the community’s needs. That’s why, over the last several years, we have shifted our approach from community banking to “community building” – a boots on the ground approach to better serve the needs of our local communities.

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As we celebrate Juneteenth this year, we are reminded of the promise and hope of the future.
As we celebrate Juneteenth this year, we are reminded of the promise and hope of the future.

Juneteenth is a day like no other. It is both a celebration of freedom and a reminder of the work that still must be done to bring about a more equitable society. So, as we recognize Juneteenth this year, now is the time to harness what unites us and help bring about changes that benefit all communities.

Taking actions focused on racial equity, along with diversity and inclusion, requires collaboration and building trust in the community. JPMorgan Chase is helping to drive sustainable changes through its five-year $30 billion racial equity commitment. With a business-led approach, this commitment aims to help address key drivers of the racial wealth divide in Black, Latino and Hispanic communities by investing in them directly.

Since its launch in October 2020, we have deployed or committed more than $18 billion toward our $30 billion goal. To sustain this progress, we must measure this effort and listen to feedback so we can have even greater impact in closing the wealth gap.

Here is just some of the progress we’ve made toward our commitment while working alongside our community partners across the country thus far:

  • Helped homeowners save money on their monthly mortgage payments by refinancing 19,000 of our 20,000 incremental loans goal
  • Approved funding for approximately $13 billion in loans to help create and preserve more than 100,000 affordable housing and rental units across the U.S.
  • Expanded our homebuyer grant program to $5,000 to help with down payment and closing costs
  • Helped customers open over 200,000 low-cost checking accounts with no overdraft fees
  • Spent an additional $155 million with 140 Black, Hispanic and Latino suppliers
  • Invested more than $100 million of equity in 15 diverse financial institutions that serve more than 89 communities in 19 states and the District of Columbia
  • Mentored more than 1,000 Black, Hispanic and Latino small businesses

Creating Community Impact

At the heart of our business is the local community bank branch. But a local bank branch, especially in underserved neighborhoods, can be successful only when it fits the community’s needs. That’s why, over the last several years, we have shifted our approach from community banking to “community building” – a boots on the ground approach to better serve the needs of our local communities.

Our Community Center branches are the most tangible symbols of our commitment to community building, as they were created to be a unique space in the heart of urban communities that hosts grassroots community events, small business mentoring sessions and financial health seminars.

Currently, we have 12 Community Center branches in neighborhoods like in Oakland, Stony Island in the South Shore of Chicago, Crenshaw in Los Angeles, and Wards 7 and 8 in Wash., D.C.

We’ll continue to add these Community Center branches in underserved communities in Miami, Atlanta, Baltimore, Philadelphia and Tulsa by the end of this year. We’ve also retrofitted over 300 existing branches, to now include spaces for the community to use to help expand access to banking and boost financial health and inclusion among Black, Hispanic and Latino communities.

A More Diverse Workforce

Creating a lasting impact is just as much about the people we hire as it is about the programs we implement. More diverse teams will allow us to generate better ideas and better outcomes, enjoy a stronger corporate culture and deliver a more transformational banking experience to our customers.

Despite the pandemic and talent retention challenges, we continue to boost our representation especially among women and people of color.

We want our branches to represent the neighborhoods they serve, which is why we continue to hire from our local communities. During this time, we’ve hired more than 300 people to community-focused roles: nearly 150 Community Managers, 150 Community Home Lending Advisors, as well as 25 diverse Senior Business Consultants.

The Community Center Manager, in particular, is a new role within the bank whose main job is to serve as local ambassadors to build trust and nurture relationships with community leaders, nonprofit partners, and small businesses.

Over the last year our Community Managers have hosted more than 1,300 community events reaching more than 36,000 nationwide with discussions ranging from ways to increase homeownership, and how to build generational wealth and stability.

As we celebrate Juneteenth this year, we are reminded of the promise and hope of the future.

We are committed to ensuring that you have the resources you need to own a home, start a business, save for college – or achieve any other goals or dreams. We look forward to working together and continuing to create lasting impact for your community and family for years to come.

Sponsored content from JPMorgan Chase & Co

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