On January 8, Governor Newsom presented his budget proposal for 2021. The good news is that it includes several proposals to address the uneven nature of COVID-19 recovery, including direct support of $600 for individuals making less than $30,000 per year, loans and grants to small businesses, vaccination funding, funding to reopen schools, and extension of the eviction protections set to expire in February. While this is some relief, the budget falls short of truly addressing the inequitable system that led to Black and Brown communities being disproportionately hit by the pandemic in the first place.
Here’s a breakdown on what the Governor’s budget proposal means for SEIU Local 99 members:
The Governor’s proposal includes $2 billion to fund his Safe Schools for All plan. He presented this plan on Dec. 30 so school districts can begin moving TK-6th grade students toward in-person instruction as early as February. We agree that in-person instruction is best for students. However, the Governor’s plan leaves too many students behind.
His plan calls for reopening schools based on low rates of infection. It does not take into account the high rates of infection in low-income communities of color. This will result in more affluent school districts re-opening first, while communities of color are left behind.
That is why we are joining with community partners and school districts to demand that the Governor comes up with a more equitable plan for returning to school. We are urging the Governor to include the following in his plan:
- Standards for a safe school environment – including standards to ensure cleanliness in classrooms, campuses and school buses
- Clear vaccination plan and timeline for school workers
- Specific funding for Special Education
- Funding for recovery programs, including summer school, tutoring, and food distribution
- Utilize schools as hubs of health care delivery and information, including testing and vaccination distribution for students, staff and the entire school community.
Stay tuned and be ready to take action.
Child Care and Early Education
The Governor’s budget proposal takes initial steps toward stabilizing our early care and education system — allocating funding for 4,500 more child care slots and increasing aid to help family child care providers keep their doors open. There is also additional investment in transitional kindergarten to help our youngest students get back on track. However, the budget needs more funding to meet the needs of families with infants and toddlers. Child care is essential now and for the economic recovery of our state. More than 6,000 family child care providers in California were forced to close their doors in 2020, and more than 60,000 children have lost access to care as a result. That’s thousands of small businesses owned primarily by Black and Brown women who have shuttered. To sustain us through this crisis, restart our economy and eventually get everyone back to work, we need a stable and sustainable child care industry.
Higher Education: Community Colleges
The Governor’s budget proposes investments in higher education to enable colleges to close equity gaps, promote graduation, fuel innovation and support students’ economic mobility. Increased funding to recruit and retain more students and address issues of learning loss is certainly a plus. But the Governor also needs to do more to ensure the safety, security and livelihoods of essential workers who have been keeping the colleges going throughout the pandemic. Our state budget needs to address recovery for all.
Remember: the Governor’s budget proposal is just the first step in the process
The state budget is not final. We need to continue pressing the Governor and legislators for more equitable funding and long-term solutions to generate new funding so everyone can recover and rebuild.