California leads when Washington will not
by Assemblymember Phil Ting
Here in California, we are witness to unprecedented dysfunction in Washington, exemplified by the longest government shutdown in American history. While the drama unfolds in our nation’s capital, millions of Californians are harmed. Trash piles up at our closed national parks and thousands of our state’s federal workers, including many of the more than 6,000 living in Assembly District 19, go without pay. Thankfully, California has stepped in to fill in the gap with Gov. Gavin Newsom directing our state’s Employment Development Department (EDD) to streamline the processing of unemployment insurance claims.
The contrast could not be clearer: while Washington continues to lurch from crisis to crisis, California’s state government works every day to serve all our state’s residents. As the Chair of the Assembly Budget Committee, I am excited to work with our new governor to make our state an even better place for all its residents. In early January, Governor Newsom released his first proposed budget, and I am heartened to see it reflects many priorities that were outlined in my Blueprint for a Responsible Budget, which I wrote about here last month.
For example, while the GOP in Washington has repeatedly attempted to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and some Republican governors have resisted Medicaid expansion in their states, California will continue to work to ensure everyone has access to affordable health coverage. Governor Newsom’s proposed budget includes provisions that would lower the price of prescription drugs and expand Medi-Cal eligibility to young adults ages 19-26, regardless of immigration status. This Medi-Cal expansion would cover an estimated 138,000 people who currently lack coverage. Additionally, this spending proposal would increase subsidies to those insured through Covered California, and it would expand subsidies to individuals with income up to 600% of the federal poverty level.
This proposed budget also prioritizes investing in education at all levels. We are on track to surpass $12,000 in base per-pupil spending, and we hope to continue increasing this figure. There is funding to help relieve school districts of long-term pension liabilities, which will help more money stay in the classroom. The proposal also includes investments to support persistently low-performing students and to build facilities so we can move towards full-day kindergarten across the state, a model championed here in San Francisco. Regarding higher education, this budget would head off any tuition increases at UC, fund a 2 percent enrollment growth at CSU, and expand free tuition for full-time community colleges students to their second year.
We’re also helping working families. Governor Newsom shares my priority to expand the Earned Income Tax Credit to more of the working poor and low-income families with children, and his budget proposes granting new parents up to six months of Paid Family Leave. Additionally, this budget prepares for a future downturn, with additional money going into our rainy day funds as Washington runs record deficits.
I look forward to working with Governor Newsom and my colleagues to pass a budget that will continue to make the California dream more attainable for all. As always, if you have any questions about or ideas to include in our budget, feel free to contact my District Office at (415) 557-2312.
Phil Ting represents the 19th Assembly District, which includes the Westside of San Francisco along with the communities of Broadmoor, Colma, and Daly City.