News

Sunday, September 6, 2020
Publication: Associated Press

Spending cuts to schools, childhood vaccinations and job-training programs. New taxes on millionaires, cigarettes and legalized marijuana. Borrowing, drawing from rainy day funds and reducing government workers' pay.

These are some actions states are considering to shore up their finances amid a sharp drop in tax revenue caused by the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

With Congress deadlocked for months on a new coronavirus relief package, many states haven't had the luxury of waiting to see whether more money is on the way. Some that have delayed budget decisions are growing frustrated by the uncertainty.

As the U.S. Senate returns to session Tuesday, some governors and state lawmakers are again urging action on proposals that could provide hundreds of billions of additional dollars to states and local governments.

“There is a lot at stake in the next federal stimulus package and, if it’s done wrong, I think it could be catastrophic for California,” said Assemblyman Phil Ting, a Democrat from San Francisco and chairman of the Assembly Budget Committee. 

Wednesday, August 26, 2020
Publication: SFGate.com/Bay City News

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues and the school year begins, San Francisco city leaders joined other public officials, including vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris, on Wednesday to call on schools to stand up against racism aimed at students of Asian and Pacific Islander descent.

The leaders, along with organizers from Beyond Differences and the Community Youth Center of San Francisco, are asking schools to take part in the Stand Up for Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Youth During COVID program.

Students have increasingly been exposed to racist language and attacks since the virus arrived in the U.S early this year, and schools lack the tools to have address it, the organizers said.

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"Young people feel isolated so often and alone, and that's how people win when we have groups of people bullying us and attacking us, they want us to feel like we are alone," said Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco). "This virtual gathering is a reminder that we are not by ourselves and in fact, there're more of us than there is of them." 

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Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Publication: Los Angeles Times

California is asking the federal government for a $300 weekly supplemental unemployment benefit for jobless Californians, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Wednesday. The move comes after the Trump administration said states would not have to put up billions of new matching dollars, which the governor said last week made the plan unworkable.

With an initial $600 weekly supplement having expired last month — part of the coronavirus relief package approved by Congress in the spring — Newsom said his administration is in talks with federal officials regarding an application to provide a $300 weekly supplement after seven other states had their requests approved.

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Assemblyman Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) said he also worries that some people have questioned the legality of the president’s executive order, so he still hopes Congress will act.

“If nothing gets passed at the federal level, Gov. Newsom should consider calling us back under a special session so we can take matters into our own hands,” Ting said.

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Consumers should prepare for the likelihood of rotating electric outages

Updates can be found here.

The California Independent System Operator (ISO) issued a statewide Flex Alert, a call for voluntary electricity conservation through Wednesday. The Flex Alerts are in effect from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. each day.

A persistent, record-breaking heat wave in California and the western states is causing a strain on supplies, and consumers should be prepared for likely rolling outages during the late afternoons and early evenings through Wednesday. There is not a sufficient amount of energy to meet the high amounts of demand during the heatwave.

Between 3 p.m. and 10 p.m., the ISO is urging consumers to:

  • Set air conditioning thermostats to 78 degrees, if health permits.
  • Defer use of major appliances.
  • Turn off unnecessary lights.
  • Unplug unused electrical devices.
  • Close blinds and drapes.
  • Use fans when possible.
  • Limit time the refrigerator door is open.
Monday, August 10, 2020

Publication: Los Angeles Times

With millions of Californians jobless during the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday that the state would face “massive” budget cuts if it carried out President Trump’s plan to have states provide $100 of a $400 supplemental weekly unemployment benefit.

Newsom and legislative leaders called on federal officials to overcome a stalemate involving Congress and the president to provide additional funding for states now that a $600 weekly unemployment payment from the federal government has expired. He noted that the plan would cost the state at least $700 million per week and up to $2.8 billion if the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act funding is depleted.

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If Trump’s order only provides $300 a week, California would have to come up with the same amount to maintain the $600 supplemental payment.

Assemblyman Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), chairman of the Assembly Budget Committee, said Monday that legislative leaders are working to find a solution.

“Supplemental unemployment benefits have worked in the short term to help many families keep a roof over their heads and put food on the table,” Ting said. “That stability is now at risk. If federal payments fall short of $600 per week, California must do all it can to make up the difference, as long as the jobless rate remains high.”

Ting is a leader of a legislative working group that proposed the state consider borrowing money from a federal trust fund to extend supplemental unemployment benefits. The state has borrowed from that fund to help pay benefits to the more than 9 million Californians who have applied for unemployment.

Traditionally, the federal loans are paid back by increasing payroll taxes paid by employers.

“We’re discussing with the governor’s office on how to move forward on this aid, including ways to fund it without putting additional burdens on small businesses,” Ting said.

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Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Publication: KTVU Fox 2 Bay Area

Millions of Californians received their last $600 supplemental unemployment benefit last week. There's disagreement on Capitol Hill over how to continue the program.

House Democrats want to extend the boost, Senate Republicans unveiled their relief plan which includes cutting the benefit to $200.

If that's what Congress decides, Democrats in the California legislature want to step in.

“If that benefit is working in the short term, I don’t know why we’re stopping it," said Assemblyman Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), chair of the budget committee. "Because the last thing we need is thousands of people evicted onto the streets.”

Assemblyman Ting and other CA Democratic legislative leaders released a $100 billion coronavirus stimulus outline. The list of proposals includes a plan to borrow federal money to fill gaps in unemployment insurance, if the $600 payment is cut. It also extends the benefit to undocumented workers who lost jobs. 

“Millions of Californians who are struggling, they’re one unemployment check away from not being able to pay rent, buy food," said Ting.  "We know they have nowhere else to turn.” 

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Publication: Voice of America

At least 2,100 anti-Asian hate incidents have been reported in the United States since March. Asian-American activists say the racism is being fueled in part by political speeches against China in connection with the coronavirus pandemic.

The Los Angeles-based Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council is a coalition of organizations that support the rights and needs of Asian and Pacific Islander Americans. The organization is gathering reports called Stop AAPI Hate of incidents against Asian-Americans.

It says most of the incidents were cases of hate speech, like racial insults. But it said about 8 percent involved physical attacks, including spitting on victims and bans against Asians from businesses.

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Trump began to accuse China of delays in reporting news of the outbreak in Wuhan. He also said China had not reported on the severity of COVID-19 and its spread.

Trump also has repeatedly described the new coronavirus as the “Chinese virus” and “kung-flu.” Asian Americans and others say the terms are derogatory and have led people to blame them for the disease.

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Phil Ting, a state assemblyman in California, said those words have led to an increase in anti-Asian behavior and hate crimes. “You see leaders express words that really give license to other people to express those same sentiments and also to act on them,” Ting said.