Local elected officials weigh in on Gov. Newsom’s budget

California Gov. Gavin Newsom unveiled his 2019-20 budget proposal on Thursday, Jan. 10, and local elected officials are weighing in on the ambitious plan.

The budget, dubbed “California for All,” calls for $209 billion to combat homelessness, to prepare for natural disasters, and to boost healthcare and public school systems, to name just a few of the plan’s funding targets. Just over 29 percent of the budget is targeted toward K-12 education and 21 percent toward health.

Monique Limon

Assemblywoman Monique Limón, D-Santa Barbara, said that she is “encouraged” by the proposed budget.

“As Vice Chair of the Legislative Women’s Caucus, I especially applaud his investments in “cradle to career,” K-12, and expanded paid family leave,” said Limón, adding that she is “especially pleased” with “$172.3 million to improve the state’s emergency response and preparedness capabilities” in light of the Montecito debris flow.

State Sen.Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, echoed Limón’s words regarding the investment in emergency response among a myriad of other interests.

“I am particularly encouraged by Governor Newsom’s commitment to expanding paid family leave,” said Jackson. The budget would expand partial-paid leave from six weeks to six months, the longest in the nation. “This proposed budget also sends us on a path to eliminate our recession-era debt while boldly planning for our future.”

The budget also includes a $4.8 billion deposit into the state’s rainy day fund, bringing the total to $15 billion.

Congresswoman Brownley: job training for vets, treatment of TSA officers

Congresswoman Julia Brownley, D-Westlake Village, has hit the ground running as part of the new Democratic majority in the U.S. House with several new bills aimed at addressing local and national issues.

Julia Bownley

On Jan. 8, Brownley introduced The Mortgage Insurance Tax Deduction Act and The Mortgage Debt Tax Forgiveness Act, which would make permanent a deduction for mortgage insurance premiums and income tax exclusion for mortgage debt forgiveness, both of which expired on Dec. 31, 2017.

Joining with fellow House Democrats, Brownley introduced the For the People Act, H.R. 1, an anti-corruption reform bill that includes a section co-authored by Brownley aimed at ending partisan gerrymandering by requiring states to adopt a citizen redistricting commission.

“The American people sent a resounding message on Election Day rejecting President Trump’s culture of chaos and corruption,” said Brownley. “My Democratic colleagues and I are hard at work now to restore our democracy and return our government to one of, by and for the people once again.”

Also introduced by Brownley: Honoring Our Fallen TSA Officers Act, federal Transportation Security Administration employees killed in the line of duty would receive the same death benefits as other federal law enforcement officers. This bill was introduced in response to the death of TSA Officer Gerardo I. Hernandez at Los Angeles International Airport on Friday, Nov. 1, 2013.

Finally, Brownley has introduced three bills aimed at assisting veterans find work. The “Help Hire Our Heroes Act,” “Reduce Unemployment for Veterans of All Ages Act,” and the “Veteran Entrepreneurs Act” all aim to provide assistance and reduce barriers for veterans in finding a job, receiving assistance or starting their own business.

The full text of each of these bills can be read at www.juliabrownley.house.gov.

Officials deride President Trump for FEMA funds threat

President Donald Trump, mired in a government shutdown battle regarding funding for a border wall between the United States and Mexico, took aim at California on Wednesday, Jan. 9, via Twitter threatening to cut funding to the wildfire ravaged state unless “they get their act together.”

“Billions of dollars are sent to the State of California for Forest fires that, with proper Forest Management, would never happen,” wrote Trump. “Unless they get their act together, which is unlikely, I have ordered FEMA to send no more money.”

Jacqui Irwin

State and local officials immediately criticized the president for his comments, including Assemblywoman Jacqui Irwin, D-Thousand Oaks, who represents District 44. Irwin joined several officials in issuing a statement.

“It is unacceptable to use victims of the fires in California as a bargaining chip in the negotiations to get the federal government working again,” said Senator Stern and Assemblymembers Jesse Gabriel, Christy Smith, Richard Bloom and Irwin. “FEMA has done critically important work providing assistance to families and businesses throughout our community — and we urge the federal government to double down on those efforts, not restrict them.”

The California legislature has in fact addressed forest management, through SB901 passed in 2018 benefitting response and recovery efforts, and through Gov. Gavin Newsom’s proposed budget, which includes a five-year $1 billion forest management plan on top of $111 million the state has invested since 2017.

The Woolsey Fire burned 83 percent of the Santa Monica Mountains federal park. Since 2016, the U.S. Forest Service has seen a $2 billion cut in its budget.