Budget Benefits for West Side
By Assemblymember Phil Ting
As your Assemblymember and chair of the Assembly Budget Committee, I cannot be prouder of the state’s new budget. It makes some great investments in our district that I pushed for, including:
• South Sunset Playground Clubhouse Renovation: $2.3 million to renovate the clubhouse at South Sunset Playground, which serves as a critical space for community meetings, events and services to seniors and youth after school programs;
• New Richmond Community Youth Center: $2 million to help the Richmond Community Center complete its new space that serves a diverse multicultural population needing education and economic resources, and;
• Sloat Boulevard: $1.5 million to improve pedestrian and bike safety between Skyline Drive and the Great Highway – a stretch listed on San Francisco’s High-Injury Network – plus another $1.2 million for SFMTA to manage new traffic patterns at Sloat and Skyline, including traffic signals, in the event the proposed closure of the Great Highway Extensions proceeds.
On a broader level, the newly enacted state budget helps families combat inflation. I know many of you are hurting because the dollar doesn’t go as far as it used to these days. From gasoline to groceries, global inflation is taking a toll on the cost of living. Approximately $9.5 billion in tax rebates will be sent out starting in October, and payments will be based on 2020 tax returns. Estimate your rebate at ftb.ca.gov.
Most Californians will qualify. For incomes of less than $75,000, individuals will receive $350, while couples making less than $150,000 will get $700. Having at least one dependent will add another $350, bringing the maximum rebate to $1,050. The rebates get smaller as earnings reach higher tax brackets.
For those on Supplemental Security Income/State Supplementary Payment (SSI/SSP), many will see their previously approved grant increases take effect next year, instead of 2024. For individuals, their grants will be about $39 more per month, while couples will see an additional $100 per month.
California’s historic budget also makes significant investments that prepare our state well for the future:
• TK-12 Education: Provides a record 13% increase in funding for all public schools which boosts the free universal school meals program, continues helping students recover from learning loss brought on by the pandemic and jumpstarts projects to modernize or construct new school facilities, including early childhood education centers;
• Higher Education: Increases funding across all UC, CSU and community college campuses to ramp up student housing construction and advance the goal of “debt-free college” by expanding CalGrant aid and Middle Class Scholarships;
• Health Care: Ensures access to abortion and reproductive services, opens up Medi-Cal to all income-eligible Californians regardless of immigration status by Jan. 1, 2024, keeps Covered California affordable and provides health care worker retention stipends;
• Social Safety Net: Increases CalWorks grants by 21% and allows single parents on the program to also keep their child support payments and extends CalFresh food assistance to undocumented immigrants aged 55 and older;
• Housing/Homelessness: Builds more affordable housing units, assists unhoused veterans and their families, bolsters legal aid programs to prevent eviction and opens clinically supported bridge housing for people experiencing homelessness and serious mental illness;
• Transportation: Makes progress on high-speed rail, improves public transit and intercity rail, expands safe walking and biking options and creates the Highways to Boulevards pilot program to connect communities divided by freeways – all of which create good-paying jobs;
• Climate Change: Continues push to get more zero-emission vehicles on our roads, shores up wildfire resilience and drought response, and prepares for sea level rise, and;
• Small Business Relief: Reimburses small businesses for increased cost of unemployment insurance, suspends a portion of diesel gas sales tax and offsets costs of Supplemental Paid Sick Leave program.
Even with these investments, we’re able to put away more than $37 billion in reserves to be prepared in the event of an economic downtown. For now, we are boldly moving forward, and I can’t wait to see the impact of our investments.
Phil Ting represents the 19th Assembly District, which includes the west side of San Francisco along with the communities of Broadmoor, Colma, and Daly City as well as part of South San Francisco.