State Budget Blueprint Aims To Protect Programs and Services While Forging a Path to Economic Recovery

2021-22 Budget Blueprint(Sacramento) - California continues to face challenges due to COVID-19. Thanks to a one-time boost in revenues, the state is in a position to not only reverse some budget cuts made last year, but also maintain critical health and human services programs. Unfortunately, however, deficits are projected in subsequent years. With that in mind, Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), Chair of the Assembly Budget Committee, unveiled his 2021-22 Budget Blueprint, Preserve | Respond | Protect | Recover, calling for the restoration of funding in key priority areas to assist struggling Californians, while developing ways to stimulate the economy and grow reserves for future downturns.

“This is a time when people need their government the most. Until we have widespread vaccination rates, we will need to keep helping families and small businesses and provide a path to economic recovery,” said Ting. “But we can’t do this alone. Like other states, we need the federal government to step up with some relief.”

Among the highlights of Preserve | Respond | Protect | Recover:

  • Stabilization of critical programs and services: Repay school/community college deferrals; restore cuts to UC, CSU, Courts, Housing, Child Support, Health & Human Services; retain reserves
  • Persistent COVID-19 response: Continued investment in public health infrastructure; safe reopening of schools; protect vulnerable populations in nursing homes and prisons; workplace safety enforcement; greater transparency & oversight of all disaster-related funding
  • Support For Working Families: Ongoing funding to head off homelessness and expand assistance programs; implementation of TK-For-All; increase college financial aid and refund amounts for California Earned Income Tax Credit (CalEITC) filers; safeguard communities from wildfires
  • Economic Recovery: Prevent evictions and support mom-and-pop landlords; modernization of the Employment Development Department (EDD); more retraining programs for laid off workers; establish a Climate Crisis investment plan and infrastructure strategy to stimulate green jobs while benefiting low-income communities

The Budget Blueprint is here:  2021-22 Budget Blueprint

CA Lawmakers Demand Answers From Bank Of America After Tens Of Thousands Of EDD Debit Cards Get Hacked

Publication: KPIX-TV/CBS 5

There has been a new development in a series of massive hacks at California’s unemployment department that KPIX 5 first exposed. Now, attention is shifting from the state to Bank of America that distributes most of the money, at last count $105 billion dollars, through debit cards we discovered are vulnerable to hacks. KPIX has received more than a hundred emails from victims. Now lawmakers are taking notice.

From a criminal’s perspective, it’s the perfect scenario: ATMs give out bills and cash is king in the underground economy. KPIX was the first to expose how fraudsters are hacking Employment Development Department (EDD) debit cards and wiping out the benefits of potentially tens of thousands of Californians.

“This is just absolutely unacceptable, that we have a bank that’s not responding. They’re not responding to you. Not responding to me, not responding to the people who they are serving,” said California Assemblyman Phillip Ting.

That was Assemblyman Ting’s first reaction, after watching our reports about rampant hack attacks on debit cards issued by Bank of America, the Employment Development Department’s exclusive debit card provider.

Bay Area Lawmaker Seeks to Ban Gas in New State Buildings and Schools

Publication: KQED

A Bay Area lawmaker is seeking to limit the use of natural gas in new public buildings and schools across California in a bill introduced in the Assembly this week.

AB 33, introduced by Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, would only affect new state buildings and public schools by, in effect, requiring electric furnaces and appliances. But it would also prevent utilities from offering its customers subsidies for new gas pipe installations anywhere.

California Lawmakers Have Long COVID-19 To-Do List as They Reconvene in Sacramento

Publication: Los Angeles Times

The new two-year session of the California Legislature began Monday as legislators took the oath of office under some of the most unusual circumstances in state history, quickly compiling an urgent to-do list addressing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on housing, schools and the economy.

Though the agenda for convening newly elected and returning lawmakers was familiar, the setting was not.

The 80 members of the state Assembly held their organizing session seven blocks from the state Capitol inside Golden 1 Center, home to the NBA’s Sacramento Kings. The event marked the first time either house has convened outside of the state Capitol since the building’s six-year restoration ended in 1981.

...

Only a few pieces of legislation were formally introduced Monday; most of the work will begin in early January. Even so, the initial legislation offered a glimpse at an agenda to tackle both short-term and systemic problems laid bare by the worsening COVID-19 pandemic and community shutdowns.

Schools

With millions of California children facing the prospect of most or all of the school year being conducted remotely, lawmakers will look for ways to standardize the procedures for when to open and how to provide the money to do so safely.

Assemblyman Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) introduced a bill Monday that would require school districts to reopen campuses when community infection rates drop.

Throughout the fall, school leaders took varying approaches toward resuming limited in-person instruction when their counties moved into the less-restrictive public health tiers established by the Newsom administration. As a result, schools in neighboring communities sometimes made conflicting decisions about whether to open. ...

Proposed Legislation Would Require California Public Schools to Reopen in March If Case Counts Are Low

Publication: San Francisco Chronicle

California’s public schools would be forced to reopen when case counts dip and county officials give the go-ahead under proposed state legislation by San Francisco Democratic Assemblyman Phil Ting.

The bill would require schools to resume in-person learning within two weeks of their county moving into red, orange or yellow tiers. Most counties have recently returned to the most stringent purple tier due to the new surge.

The bill, if passed, would go into effect March 1.

Ting Proposal To Require School Reopenings In Most Cases During Pandemic

AB 10 Requires Schools To Reopen When COVID Cases Are Low(Sacramento) – Parents are worried about the effects distance learning is having on their children, especially when they look to markers such as student achievement, social development and emotional distress. Given the growing toll of shuttered classrooms, Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) today introduced AB10, requiring public schools to reopen under most circumstances during the pandemic when infection rates drop.

“As a father, I worry about all the learning loss occurring and the millions of kids who are falling behind, as a result of our sole reliance on remote teaching – not to mention the impacts of social isolation. Schools in other states and countries have prioritized in-person learning during COVID-19 and have done so without major outbreaks. California ought to follow that path,” said Ting.

Last month’s Journal of the American Medical Association study found learning loss experienced by elementary students in the first three months of the pandemic could shorten their life span, collectively resulting in more than five million fewer years of life. Under AB10, starting March 1, 2021, schools allowed to open under state and county health orders (those in the Red, Orange, or Yellow tiers) must implement a plan to do so within two weeks, setting a clear threshold for when in-person instruction resumes. Local districts can still decide for themselves which in-person model best fits their student and workforce needs, including a hybrid format of both in-person and distance learning.

“Schools should be ready to open as soon as public health authorities allow it.  Distance learning is ineffective for many students.  We must bring students back into the classroom with safety measures in place as soon as possible to prevent further learning loss,” said Joint Author Assemblymember Patrick O’Donnell (D-Long Beach), Chair of the Assembly Education Committee.

"This bill is essential to guarantee the safe reopening of our schools. We have to make sure measures are already in place to reopen, and we must protect the kids who have fallen behind in distance learning,” said Joint Author Assemblymember Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento), Chair of the Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Education Finance.

Ting Bill Curtails Natural Gas Expansion To Combat Climate Change

(Sacramento) – To ramp up California’s efforts to slash greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) today introduced AB 33, aimed at cutting back natural gas usage in residential and commercial buildings. Natural gas is essentially comprised of methane, a pollutant that contributes to climate change.

After its release, methane is 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide over the course of two decades. Nearly 10% of the state’s carbon emissions comes from the use of water heaters, furnaces, dryers, stoves and other appliances powered by natural gas, but the percentage can be much higher in big cities.

“We need to confront rising GHG emissions by reducing these harmful air pollutants where we can. No adjustment is too small. Now that California has committed to transitioning to cleaner cars, we must take action across other sectors to help address our climate crisis and meet our goals,” said Ting.

AB 33 seeks to ban natural gas connections in new public schools and state buildings. It also prohibits utilities from subsidizing expansion of the natural gas network. For example, they could no longer grant discounts, or “allowances,” on infrastructure costs associated with new gas pipe installations.

Electricity usage has a lower carbon footprint than natural gas in California because of the state’s growing investments in renewable energy, such as solar and wind, as well as efficiencies associated with electric appliances. Electrification also decreases indoor air pollution, which contributes to respiratory problems.

The first committee hearing for AB 33 is expected to be in the Spring. If approved, AB 33 would not affect local ordinances banning natural gas in newly constructed buildings. San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, San Jose, and Santa Monica are among the 40 California communities approving such regulations.

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San Francisco Delegation Calls on Superintendents in Their Districts To Make Plans to Reopen Schools

The San Francisco delegation, Assemblymembers Phil Ting and David Chiu, and State Senator Scott Wiener sent letters to all five school superintendents in their districts, calling on them to make a plan to bring back in-person learning. Full copies of the letters:

San Francisco Unified School District:  SFUSD Letter

San Mateo County Office of Education:  SMCOE Letter

Jefferson Union High School District:  JUHSD Letter

Jefferson Elementary School District:  JESD Letter

Bayshore Elementary School District:  BESD Letter