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    Funding Progress, Protecting Tomorrow

    By Assemblymember Phil Ting–

    As we begin the New Year and a new legislative session, it’s exciting to see California revving its engines at the starting line with a new governor and a Democratic supermajority in both houses. I thank my constituents for re-electing me to a fourth term so that I can be part of this journey. We’re ready to get to work!

    I’m honored to continue serving as the Chair of our Assembly Budget Committee and to help craft a fourth fiscal plan for the state. I recently unveiled my 2019–20 Budget Blueprint: Funding Progress|Protecting Tomorrow, which aims to build upon the investments we made in the current budget, while also preparing us for an economic downturn.

    By most measures, our economy is thriving with our state taking in record revenues. In fact, the non-partisan Legislative Analyst Office (LAO) projects that we’ll have a budget surplus by mid-year. But in the same breath, the LAO also warns that California does not have enough saved to weather a recession without making budget cuts if new spending is proposed. We have to listen. Memories of draconian cuts made ten years ago to schools and other essential programs in the wake of the Great Recession are still fresh in peoples’ minds, and no one wants to relive that.

    Our state’s leadership was right to prioritize filling the rainy-day fund in anticipation of hard times to come. The overarching themes of my Budget Blueprint are to: 1) focus on one-time investments, 2) keep our promises, 3) pursue long-term goals and 4) ensure that taxpayers get the most from their government.

    That means continuing to fund the significant progress we’ve made: boosting per-pupil spending in K–12 education, increasing CalWORKs grants to alleviate deep poverty, allowing SSI–SSP recipients to finally receive food benefits, expanding UC and CSU enrollment for California students and creating new child care slots. We’ll also work with communities devastated by wildfires to help them recover, as well as invest in forest management and new emergency response equipment.

    But that also means encouraging one-time allocations instead of committing the state to new ongoing expenses we can’t afford. One-time investments are equally critical to help California thrive and could include infusions for specific state programs, reducing our state’s debts, performing deferred maintenance on our aging infrastructure and boosting reserves.

    For example, after hearing about the state’s progress in HIV prevention, including San Francisco’s Getting to Zero initiative to eradicate new HIV infections, I was inspired to fight for additional state funds to help existing programs achieve their goal. The $7 million I secured for PrEP and PEP and other services is a great example of one-time spending from the current state budget that will have long-lasting community benefits.  

    This Blueprint also lays out plans for pursuing long-term goals, such as creating more affordable housing, preventing homelessness, expanding early education and after school programs, providing universal access to healthcare and stopping the cycle of incarceration through employment and education programs for those leaving prison. In the nearer term, we will make government work better for you by continuing to reduce DMV wait times. I am proud to announce that average wait times have already dropped about 90 minutes over the last three months, and we will continue to work toward greater efficiencies.

    As I work to draft the Assembly’s budget plan, I welcome your input. I am holding a town hall meeting on Thursday, January 10, from 6 pm–7:30 pm at the Doelger Senior Center in Daly City. Please come by!

    Phil Ting represents the 19th Assembly District, which includes the Westside of San Francisco along with the communities of Broadmoor, Colma and Daly City.