The Greenlining Institute Applauds CA Governor’s Forward-Thinking Budget Proposal
[ Article originally appeared in https://greenlining.org ]
By Molly Tafoya,
Gov. Newsom announced his 2022-23 California budget proposal which includes a massive $45.7 billion revenue surplus to be spent on crucial state programs that will benefit historically underserved communities including low-income people and communities of color. The governor’s proposal outlines a COVID-19 response and relief package including small business support, a solid affordable housing strategy, workforce training and job opportunities, universal health care access and expanded reproductive health care, and a transformative climate action package.
“With the COVID-19 Omicron variant ravaging the health of communities of color and economically destabilizing our recovery, we desperately need comprehensive, nuanced solutions to these complex challenges. Governor Newsom’s budget proposal makes life-changing investments a priority, and we applaud this commitment,” said The Greenlining Institute President and CEO Debra Gore-Mann. “California has an opportunity to lead the way on equity. We will no longer entertain the false narrative that we must choose between the health of our communities and the health of the economy. It’s about ensuring communities of color can build wealth, live in healthy places filled with economic opportunity, and are ready to meet the challenges posed by climate change.”
Specifically, the budget proposal includes $14 billion for economic recovery and relief for those hit hardest by COVID-19, including workers, renters, and small businesses–many of whom are people of color. It also calls for a statewide minimum wage increase to $14 an hour, a $1 billion housing development package, and universal access to healthcare coverage. From the ongoing pandemic to the housing crisis, we call for comprehensive solutions that tear down structural inequalities. The Greenlining Institute supports these efforts to reduce the racial wealth gap and eliminate all barriers to economic opportunity for our communities.
Building on the $15 billion commitment made last year, the budget also includes an historic $37 billion climate action package for programs The Greenlining Institute has championed for nearly a decade. These commitments prioritize communities of color and low-income communities that are hit first and worst by climate change including $6.1 billion for zero-emission vehicles and equitable transportation programs, nearly $1 billion for equitable building electrification, $165 million for the Transformative Climate Communities Program, $135 million for Regional Climate Collaboratives and Resilience, and millions more for climate adaptation projects to support climate resiliency for those communities on the frontlines of climate change.
“We can only achieve our climate goals by focusing on the needs of those in the most polluted and underserved neighborhoods. Governor Newsom’s budget proposal recognizes this reality,” said Alvaro Sanchez, Vice President of Policy at The Greenlining Institute. “We’re excited to work with the Legislature to prove to the rest of the country that, when leaders are intentional about equity, we can not only advance our climate agenda, we can also dismantle systemic racism and address the lasting effects of redlining.”
Given the large state budget surplus, the Greenlining Institute urges Governor Newsom and the Legislature to consider the full suite of climate equity programs to get the funding they need to help communities transition to a clean energy economy, and to increase investments in community resilience programs including Transformative Climate Communities, Community Resilience Centers, and the Low-income Weatherization programs.
Notably, the budget proposal eliminates funding for the California Vehicle Rebate Program (CVRP), which data has proven to mostly benefit early adopters with the least to gain from the cash incentives. We support redirecting critical funds to the communities who need it most with proven programs that support low-and-middle income Californians gaining access to EVs.
Unfortunately, the proposal does not include funding for an Office of Racial Equity, a Greenlining priority, that will create uniformity in the state’s approach in addressing racial inequities. California must solidify the state infrastructure to lead on equity if we want to ensure these programs flourish. The proposal also does not include any additional funding for utility debt relief for struggling families. The Greenlining Institute looks forward to working with Governor Newsom and the Legislature to implement and refine this forward-thinking budget and make good on their promise to protect the health and well-being of all communities.
To learn more about The Greenlining Institute, visit www.greenlining.org.
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