Last year, the legislature focused on mitigating the effects of the COVID-19 virus and finding creative solutions to support working families overcome the challenges of the pandemic.
I jointly authored AB 832, which extended the COVID-19 eviction moratorium and Rent Relief Plan. This was a huge win for families facing housing hardships, as the bill established the state’s rent relief program to assist renters and landlords with the repayment of past due rent due to economic hardships created by the pandemic.
It is important to me that we protect vulnerable populations from the devastating effects of the pandemic. Our seniors, who were among the first victims of the pandemic, continue to be the most at risk. The pandemic prevented many family members from visiting or even advocating for their family members in nursing homes and ensuring their safety. That is why I authored AB 849, now signed into law, which ensures skilled nursing facilities and long-term care facilities would be accountable for violating a current or former resident’s rights as set forth in the Patient’s Bill of Rights.
A big legislative win last year was protecting classified school employees. Classified school employees are essential to the success of California schools by ensuring students have nutritious meals, safe learning environments, and extra academic help, yet they are the lowest paid and often the first to be laid off from their jobs during difficult economic times. I was honored to author AB 438, which standardized the layoff process and extended existing worker protection to school bus drivers, food service workers, and other classified employees. This bill was signed into law and ensures workers receive equal treatment regardless of job title.
As our schools re-open, it is important that our students have access to all the resources needed to pursue a higher education. It is no surprise that COVID-19 has exacerbated the inequities students face when applying to college, including completing financial aid forms. After years of advocating for the Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and the California Dream Act Application (CADAA) to become a graduation requirement, we were finally able to secure this as a statewide policy. This year the Governor signed AB 469 into law, which ensures that high school seniors complete and submit the FAFSA or CADAA and receive the proper guidance needed to make higher education accessible to all California students, regardless of their immigration status.
Last year, the Governor approved my budget request to waive child care family fees for all families through June of 2022. This action has put resources back in families’ pockets to pay for rent, food, and other necessities as we emerge from the pandemic. We look to extending the fee waivers through AB 92.
The state budget package also included the following local funding wins:
- $4 million to keep KVCR open as the educational broadcast arm of the San Bernardino Community College District. KVCR is the only locally-owned and operated public media outlet in the Inland Empire.
- $1 million to the City of San Bernardino to rehabilitate and expand the Garcia Center for the Arts.
- $31 million for a workforce training hub at San Bernardino Valley College.
- $6 million for Crafton Hills College to replace the outdated Finkelstein Performing Arts Center.
- $200,000 for the Colton Hutton Senior Center to continue serving the senior community.
- $1 million for an International Healing Garden facility at Rialto Unified School District.
- $1.5 million for relocation and completion of Ayala Park in Bloomington.
- $200,000 for a mobile food bank for the Community Action Partnership of San Bernardino County Foodbank.
- $103,400 for the County of San Bernardino for a Medical Assistant Workforce Development Program
- $10 million for a homeless youth emergency service pilot project for Counties of Orange, Fresno, El Dorado, and San Bernardino.
- $6 million for parent and youth civic engagement for Inland Congregations United for Change.
- $182 million to the Emergency Food Assistance Program which provides grants to the California Association of Foodbank including food banks in the Inland Empire.
- $150 million grant program to provide financial relief to live performance venues for recovery from economic consequences of COVID-19. Grant program will be available to local venues such as the Inland Empire 66ers minor league baseball team.
- $10 million for a housing complex in Riverside for homeless LGBTQ+ youth from the Inland Empire.