The Greenlining Institute expressed great concern about important programs left unfunded in the proposed state budget released on Jan. 10 by Gov. Gavin Newsom, while applauding proposals that can help preserve and enhance economic opportunity for California’s communities of color.
Greenlining applauded the governor’s proposed infusion of capital into the fight against homelessness. “Affordable housing and homelessness represent critical challenges for California, and particularly for communities of color,” said Greenlining Institute Economic Equity Director Adam Briones. “Black Californians represent about six and a half percent of our state’s population, but nearly 40% of California’s homeless. We look forward to seeing more bold leadership from the governor and Legislature on this issue.”
Briones added, “Greenlining also applauds the governor for addressing some pressing needs of small businesses, especially those owned by people of color. We are especially excited about his decision to propose an LLC fee waiver and look forward to assisting him in passing that legislation.”
Greenlining has long argued that addressing poverty and pollution at the same time must be core to the state’s fight against climate change.
Unfortunately, the proposed Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund allocation eliminates funding for the most comprehensive, equitable, and transformational program, the Transformative Climate Communities Program, as well as for other programs critical to low-income communities. This follows a troubling pattern of underinvestment in programs known to deliver the most measurable, direct, and assured benefits to California’s disadvantaged communities.
“We are deeply troubled by the governor’s decision to eliminate funding for the Transformative Climate Communities Program,” said Greenlining Institute Environmental Equity Director Alvaro Sanchez. “We call on the governor and the Legislature to reestablish funding for this important program and to invest more, not less, in programs that deliver real climate solutions to low-income communities of color that are hit hardest by climate change.”
Greenlining urges that these key programs be funded at the following levels:
• $100 million for Transformative Climate Communities (zeroed out in Newsom’s proposal)
• $100 million for Low Carbon Transportation Equity Programs ($75 million in Newsom’s proposal)
• $5 million for Regional Climate Collaboratives (zeroed out in Newsom’s proposal)
• $75 million for Low-Income Weatherization (zeroed out)
In addition, the governor proposes a $4 billion Climate Resilience Bond. “Unfortunately,” Sanchez said, “this includes insufficient funds to build the resilience of the populations most vulnerable to climate change, so we will strongly urge more funding for communities most at risk.”
Greenlining’s Health Equity team applauded Newsom’s inclusion of funding for full-scope Medi-Cal coverage for undocumented seniors as well as his $695 million proposal to transform Medi-Cal to provide comprehensive, coordinated physical and mental health services, especially for Californians lacking secure housing.
“Coordinating funding to address housing as a health intervention is an important example of working across sectors to improve health outcomes for the most vulnerable. We want to see more investments in jobs and economic opportunities as a health intervention as well,” said Greenlining Health Equity Program Manager Kelsey Lyles.
In light of the Jan. 1, 2020, expansion of Medi-Cal to cover all low-income Californians under age 26 regardless of immigration status, Greenlining emphasized the need for investments in health workforce and loan forgiveness programs so that providers are equipped to serve the diverse needs of communities of color.
Greenlining’s Technology Equity Team applauded the governor’s inclusion of resources to map the state of broadband connectivity in California. “These maps are critically needed and will finally provide the state the data necessary to ensure that everyone has access to a robust, open internet at reasonable prices,” said Greenlining Technology Equity Director Paul Goodman.
“More accurate data, combined with the governor’s commitment of $900 million over five years to improve California’s broadband infrastructure, will ensure that all Californians see the benefit of a robust, competitive market for internet service. We are especially encouraged that the governor acknowledges that California can include the construction of broadband infrastructure as part of other state projects.”