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Newsom Unveils Revised Budget Proposal, $100 Billion Post-Pandemic Recovery Plan    

The $267.8 billion budget includes a $196.8 billion general fund and is roughly $41 billion more than the initial budget Newsom proposed in January.

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Gavin Newsom/Wikimedia

Gov. Gavin Newsom unveiled his revised state budget proposal May 14, including a $100 billion economic recovery plan and scores of one-time spending thanks to a nearly $76 billion projected surplus.

The $267.8 billion budget includes a $196.8 billion general fund and is roughly $41 billion more than the initial budget Newsom proposed in January.

The increase in proposed spending was made possible by the state receiving billions more dollars in tax revenue than expected over the last year as the state’s wealthiest residents got even wealthier, according to Newsom and state budget officials. 

“That (recovery plan) is the biggest economic recovery package — period, full stop — in California history,” Newsom said. 

Newsom spent the week leading up to the announcement teasing bits and pieces of the budget and the recovery package, which he has dubbed the California Comeback Plan.

The plan includes sending $600 stimulus checks to state residents who made up to $75,000 last year, spending billions to assist with rent and utility bills that have gone unpaid due to the coronavirus pandemic, making pre-kindergarten available to all 4-year-olds in the state and some $4 billion in relief grants for small businesses. 

Newsom touted the budget’s $93.7 billion in public education funding as the most ever allocated to schools by the state.

That figure also does not include some $15.3 billion in federal education funding and another $8.1 billion in tax revenue that could be funneled to education spending via the “Gann limit,” a 1979 voter-approved ballot measure that puts an annual limit on government spending. 

When the limit is reached, the remaining money must be returned to taxpayers. The roughly $12 billion that will fund the $600 stimulus checks is also part of that strategy to disperse money that surpassed the Gann limit, according to state officials. 

The education funding would amount to roughly $14,000 per student across the state, double what the state was spending per student a decade ago, according to Newsom. 

The state would spend $900 million in 2022-2023 and $2.7 billion in 2024-2025 under the plan to make pre-kindergarten universally available. Some 250,000 students would gain access to pre-K once fully implemented, Newsom said. 

The budget includes $3.3 billion to train and support the additional teachers needed to expand the availability of pre-kindergarten and cut the ratio of pre-K students to teachers from 24-to-1 to 12-to-1. 

“We want to make public schools essential,” Newsom said. “We want to make them competitive. We want to make our public education system enriching. We want to make our public education system what it’s capable of being.”

The funding plan also includes $2 billion to open personal savings accounts for some 3.7 million low-income, foster, homeless and English-learning youth.

The savings accounts would be seeded with $500 base deposits for every student in the program and an additional $500 for students who are homeless or in foster care.

The accounts could eventually be used to help pay for college or start a business, Newsom said, noting that some studies have found that children with early financial access and planning are seven times more likely to go to college.broadband internet

 

“This is an opportunity to address generational poverty,” Newsom said. “This is an opportunity to stretch a college-going mind but also an opportunity to look at trade school and entrepreneurial spirit… because we recognize there are many pathways for our children.”

The budget proposal also includes billions to help unhoused residents get off the streets; build some 46,000 housing units for unhoused residents; clean the state’s streets, freeways and neighborhoods; install broadband internet across the state; modernize the state’s infrastructure; invest in clean and renewable energy sources; and invest in drought and wildfire preparedness and resilience.

Newsom framed the spending in the proposed budget as economic supports that will help the state’s economy come “roaring back” from last year’s nadir in the pandemic’s early days, which forced the state to make financial cuts to shore up a roughly $54 billion budget deficit.

The revised budget proposal, while released on schedule, also comes as Newsom faces an effort to recall him and multiple Republican candidates that have argued the projected surplus is so large only because the state taxes its residents too much.

State Republican Party Chair Jessica Millan Patterson said in a statement that the week-long budget rollout — which Newsom has done in the past — was a de-facto response tour to the recall effort and called him “shameless” for taking some credit in the state’s economic rebound.

“The only credit he and Democrats deserve is for California’s shuttered businesses, sky-high unemployment, deteriorating unemployment department, shrinking population, devastating homeless crisis and failing education system that is punishing students and parents through its union-first virtual schooling,” she said. 

State Sen. Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, praised Newsom for the revised budget proposal’s priorities.

“Thank goodness California is in the position to make transformative investments to end family homelessness, lift those hurt by the pandemic and properly fund our schools,” said Skinner, the chair of the Senate Budget Committee. 

“Gov. Newsom’s proposed budget does that and more and complements the state Senate’s priorities,” she said. “Let the negotiations begin.”

Full details on Newsom’s revised budget proposal can be found at http://www.ebudget.ca.gov.

Newsom and the state Legislature will have until June 15 to approve the budget before the new fiscal year begins on July 1.

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Assembly Candidates Confront the Issues:  Howard Terminal , Local Control of Schools, Reparations

The candidates are running to represent Oakland, Alameda and San Leandro in a June 29 special election for California State Assembly District #18, a seat that was previously held by Rob Bonta, who was recently appointed as California Attorney General.

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James Aguilar

Janani Ramachandran

Malia Vella

Mia Bonta

 

Candidates for State Assembly responded to pointed  questions on some of the critical issues facing Oakland schools and the community – including displacement, housing, reparations, public safety and returning full local control to the public schools – at a recent Education Candidate Forum on Zoom hosted by the School of Education at Holy Names University in Oakland, in partnership with the Oakland Post Community Assembly.

The candidates are running to represent Oakland, Alameda and San Leandro in a June 29 special election for California State Assembly District #18, a seat that was previously held by Rob Bonta, who was recently appointed as California Attorney General. Candidates attending the forum were James Aguilar, Victor Aguilar, Mia Bonta, Joel Britton, Janani Ramachandran, and Malia Vella.

The event was hosted by Dr. Kimberly Mayfield, dean of the School of Education at  Holy Names, who emphasized the importance of these issues for the city’s future.

“We have just come through a moral and political crisis (in this country) around racism and the government’s role in maintaining this system. We are looking for a new approach, and this is the lens we will be using today for this education forum,” said  Dr. Mayfield.

Also welcoming the candidates and the public to event were Oakland Post publisher Paul Cobb and his wife Gay Plair Cobb, who highlighted  their intense interest in schools and education. Paul Cobb is a former member of the Oakland Board of Education, and Gay Cobb served for many years on the Alameda County Board of Education.

The first question to  candidates was whether they would oppose the big money coalition of politicians and  powerful interests  behind  Oakland A’s owner John Fisher’s stadium and massive downtown real estate project at Howard Terminal. 

 Opponents of the project  argue  that the A’s proposal is vaguely worded and would come at a  high cost to Oakland taxpayers, who would foot the bill for decades. They say the development would create  a city-within-a-city, like Piedmont, that would  displace local residents and likely wreck  the Port of Oakland and its decent-paying longshore jobs, turning the city’s waterfront  and downtown into a tourist attraction like Pier 39 in San Francisco.

Of the three candidates who are considered to be the top contenders., only Janani Ramachandran was strongly opposed to Fisher’s deal. Malia Vella and Mia Bonta raised concerns but did not oppose the development. 

James Aguilar, Victor Aguilar and Joel  Britton were also against the project.

Bonta, president of the school board in Alameda, said, “I believe that there is a way for us to be able to hold the Oakland A’s accountable to the plan and the processes that they made … starting with stakeholder involvement in the environmental impact of the proposed project.”

Malia Vella,  vice mayor of Alameda and attorney for the Teamsters Union, said, “We need to have community input. The best projects are the results of a robust process that involve community stakeholders,… and an opportunity to meaningfully engage.. to get the best community benefits.”

Said Janani  Ramachandran, a social justice attorney, “I was the first candidate in this race who took an uncompromising, clear and public stand against the project … because having visited Howard Terminal, I have seen why it is entirely unfeasible and harmful to our West Oakland residents and extremely harmful to our thriving port, the fifth largest in the country.”

The candidates supported the statewide demand or reparations and the movement for Reparations for Black Students raised by community groups in Oakland.  They also backed an approach to public safety that deemphasizes policing and stresses the need for jobs, housing and health care to build safe communities. 

Candidates also backed the return of local control of Oakland schools and loan forgiveness, to end the domination of the schools  by a state-imposed trustee and the austerity program pushed by Fiscal Crisis Management and Assistance Team (FCMAT),as well as halting the closing of schools in flatland neighborhoods.

Bonta called for “an end state receivership, which is decades old, and  the FCMAT order that has created a status of fiscal enslavement of Oakland Unified, which paired with growth of charter schools has created a structural deficit that OUSD  can’t get out from under.”

About teacher recruitment, all the candidates said would seek to end expensive standardized tests and other obstacles facing Black and other people of color who want to become teachers.

Janani Ramachandran said she would support legislation  “to remove excess and expensive tests and other barriers that .. keep Black and other potential teachers of color from entering the profession.”

 

To watch the video of the forum, go to www.youtube.com/watch?v=6vsEi_7bXx4

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Pastors of Oakland, Oakland Police Expanding Community Chaplaincy Program

The program is seeking clergy with cultural competency to meet the needs of Oakland citizens who are Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Taoist – especially in Asian, Latino and African American communities.

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Pastor Phyllis Scott is president of Pastors of Oakland. Photo courtesy of Phyllis Scott. By Post Staff

In preparation for building up the Community Chaplaincy Program with the Oakland Police Department (OPD), the Pastors of Oakland (POC) is looking for potential chaplains to serve  citizens in the worst of times.

According to Phyllis Scott, pastor of Tree of Life Empowerment Ministries and current president of Pastors of Oakland, OPD Chief LeRonne Armstrong is looking for at least 30 men and women to accompany officers to help victims of crime and their families who are in crisis.

The crises can range from homicide to sexual assault, to domestic violence, to car accidents and more.

Community Chaplains must have the ability to serve believers and non-believers alike and “must advocate for healing regardless of faith,” Scott said.

The program is seeking clergy with cultural competency to meet the needs of Oakland citizens who are Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Taoist – especially in Asian, Latino and African American communities.

Not all Community Chaplains must have a religious affiliation. Professionals like teachers, caregivers and healers who have several years working in community may also serve.

Though Scott feels that some cultural values can be taught in the training, it’s not so easy to teach a language, and so bilingual chaplains will also be in demand.

“We are looking for people who have heart for Oakland,” she said.

Lt. Aaron Smith, who is assisting Chief Armstrong in expanding the program, agrees. Currently, there are 15-25 chaplains on call but “not all are willing to go where emotions are running high,” he said.

Once the details are hammered out, dates will be set for training, Scott said, who was herself certified to do this work in 2009. The training, six weekly sessions, will include instruction by specialists familiar with the emotional states of people who are in shock because of a homicide, domestic violence, sexual assault, and sex trafficking “without interfering with law enforcement,” Scott said.

Typical needs are help with planning a vigil, getting the body of a victim out of the morgue, finding a church or a place to hold a funeral that isn’t too expensive. Once those issues are dealt with, the family can freely grieve, and then they can begin to heal.

Scott cited an instance where a boy was shot to death, and the family and community, fearing reprisal, were essentially afraid to grieve openly. That’s where the chaplaincy came in, joining forces with OPD so the young man was funeralized safely, Scott said.

OPD and Pastors of Oakland want chaplains who are located in all parts of the city, roughly East Oakland, West Oakland and North Oakland. Once contacted by OPD, a ‘beat’ captain will call on the chaplain or chaplains in that area who have agreed to be available day or night.

Besides the city streets, Scott would like to see Community Chaplains at Highland Hospital, which is where many trauma victims are treated and where further violence against victims can be perpetrated as when gang members try to kill someone who survived an attack.

Scott said she is bracing for an escalation in violence, not just because it’s almost summer, the most dangerous season of the year, but because homicides were already alarmingly high so far this year, despite the pandemic.

Last month, there were four homicides in one week: two 17-year-old boys were shot to death, and the next day two teenaged girls died when a party bus was shot up by more than one assailant as it traveled from the freeway and ended up at 73rd and MacArthur –  just a few blocks from Scott’s home. She wished she could haven there.

For those interested in learning more about the Community Chaplains, please call Pastors of Oakland at 510-688-7437.

 

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Bay Area’s Black Fraternities and Sororities Award $180,000 in Scholarships

Graduating seniors from all over the Bay Area as well as continuing college students were recognized for their academic achievements by the member organizations.

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Photo courtesy of NPHC facebook

On June 6, the San Francisco Bay Area National Pan Hellenic Council held its annual scholarship reception virtually where over 100 students were awarded a total of $180,000 in scholarships.

Chaired by Dr. Joseph Marshall, the SF Bay NPHC is comprised of 25 chapters of the nine historically Black fraternities and sororities – Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, and Iota Phi Theta Fraternity.

Graduating seniors from all over the Bay Area as well as continuing college students were recognized for their academic achievements by the member organizations.

Recipients will be attending a wide variety of schools including HBCUs, prestigious colleges and local institutions like Howard University, Spelman College, Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse University, Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, UC Berkeley, San Francisco State and Cal State East Bay.

In addition to the scholarships awarded by the individual chapters, the council awarded the Mrs. Bethola Harper Scholarships and the two SF Bay NPHC book scholarships.

Brigitte Cook is the vice president of the NPHC.

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