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    The Road to Economic Recovery

    By Assemblymember Phil Ting–

    Given the hope surrounding the COVID-19 vaccine and new leadership in the White House, I am optimistic about 2021 and the eventual return to normalcy. But until we have widespread vaccination rates, California will continue to face challenges related to the pandemic. Thankfully, the state is seeing better-than-expected revenues, with an estimated 15 billion one-time surplus, allowing us to address immediate needs and forge a path toward economic recovery.

    The Budget Blueprint I put forth as Chair of the Assembly Budget Committee shares a similar goal with Governor Newsom’s proposed budget for the 2021–22 fiscal year—navigate California’s fiscal road ahead by prioritizing help for struggling families and small businesses. There cannot be an economic recovery if our most vulnerable communities fall further behind; therefore, we must stabilize them during these unpredictable times.

    I believe we can accomplish this by maintaining the programs and services upon which people rely. Our one-time budget surplus allows us to undo upcoming cuts to critical health and human services programs like In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS), as well as restore funding cuts and payment delays made last year to K–12/Higher Education, courts, and other services when additional federal assistance from the Trump Administration fell through. (Unlike Washington, D.C., the state cannot deficit spend and must pass a balanced budget.)

    Additionally, more support for working families will go a long way. We’ll continue to make the application process less burdensome for programs like CalWorks, CalFresh, and Medi-Cal, so people can access the cash assistance, food, and healthcare they need to survive. I’m also advocating for more ongoing money to head off homelessness and expand housing assistance.

    And as a champion of efforts to expand the California Earned Income Tax Credit (CalEITC) in previous years, I believe now is the time to increase refund amounts and eligibility, as it puts money in the pockets of the people who need it the most. All taxpayers, regardless of immigration status, may qualify for CalEITC payments if they earn less than $30,000 a year. The Governor has similarly proposed the Golden State Stimulus, providing $600 in direct cash payments to all CalEITC filers.

    We should show the same commitment to neighborhood restaurants, retailers, and other mom-and-pop operations to ensure they can weather the pandemic. We have already made grants, loans, and tax relief available to small business owners at the state level, and are determined to do more.

    California must also stay on top of the coronavirus with continued investments in public health infrastructure (including vaccine distribution), protection of vulnerable populations, and improved workplace safety enforcement. When infection rates decrease, we must also prioritize reopening schools. Like many parents, I’ve been concerned about the effects distance learning and social isolation are having on our kids. My bill, AB 10, would bring back in-person classes when public health officials deem it safe, with our budget covering the added costs brought on by more testing, personal protective equipment, and proper social distancing.

    We’re already working on a responsible fiscal plan that will successfully steer the state through the pandemic and help us emerge stronger. Budget hearings are underway, giving the public opportunities to weigh in.

    Now is the time when Californians need their government the most. I’m thankful the Biden administration shares the same values and hope our federal partners will help lead us toward an equitable economic recovery.

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

    Published on January 28, 2021