Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris, Chair of the Accountability & Administrative Review Committee, released the following statement in response to Governor Gavin Newsom’s proposed 2022-2023 State Budget:
“The Governor’s budget proposal comes as we enter the third year of the pandemic. This is a critical juncture for California— we must continue to combat the COVID-19 crisis and make the investments that will enable us to forge a swift, robust and equitable recovery.
“I am thrilled that the Governor’s proposal includes the restoration of the business tax credits that were cut at the onset of the pandemic. This includes the all-important R&D tax credit which spurs innovation, creates good jobs and is critical to maintaining California’s competitiveness. Dozens of my colleagues have joined me in advocating for this restoration since June 2019, and we will push to ensure this reversal is in the final budget.
“The $30 million hazard response modernization proposal is a testament to the success of the Fire Integrated Real-time Intelligence System (FIRIS) program I established in 2019 with the Orange County Fire Authority as a pilot in the state budget. This real-time data technology was used to fight major fires 2019-2021 and increases the real-time information and situational awareness available to the state and California’s mutual aid system responders and managers on all hazards events, including wildfires. FIRIS utilizes a combination of aircraft, high-definition real-time video, and data analysis dispatched throughout the state to provide nearly instantaneous, accurate visual situation awareness that informs public safety and emergency management operational and tactical decisions. Early detection and rapid intelligence allow for the strategic and efficient allocation of resources before, during and after disaster incidents, and a more effective response to reduce loss of life and property. I strongly support the statewide rollout of this hugely successful program.
“Presented with this large surplus, the fiscally responsible thing to do is pay off our debts, starting with one of the greatest looming threats to our economy – the 20 billion and growing Unemployment Insurance Fund debt. California is the highest debt holder for UI of any state in the nation and accounts for half of the outstanding federal UI Fund debt. If this continuously accruing debt isn’t addressed, the burden will be laid on the back of California businesses in the form of increased payroll taxes. I was pleased to see that the Governor includes a $3 billion investment in paying down these debts, but this does not go far enough. I will advocate for more.
“In order for California’s small businesses, which employ 10 million California workers, to get back on their feet, we must continue to invest in programs that illicit opportunities for growth, specifically for minority- and women-owned businesses which were disproportionately affected by the pandemic. A critical component of this is investing in the Small Business Technical Assistance Program (SB-TAEP) which gives small businesses the crucial outreach, staffing, and direct services they need to adapt to the changing economic landscape and recover from the devastating financial impacts that the pandemic has wrought. I am grateful that these issues are a shared priority found in the Governor’s economic package and I will continue to support additional funding in the Legislature’s budget proposal.
“As a mom, our kids and their quality education are of the utmost importance. I am pleased to see this budget proposal includes a record level of investment in California kids, including funding to keep our kids in school safely, stem learning lag and help all students succeed. The impact of schools remaining open cannot be underscored enough as it relates to working parents, specifically working moms, as we have seen a drastic decrease in women in the workforce. Keeping our schools open and providing accessible, affordable childcare are critical pieces of the puzzle in strengthening our economy.
“This budget also focuses on the all-important climate resilience. The allocation of funds towards coastal protection, wildfire prevention and the circular economy will provide a crucial role in combating the climate crisis. The Governor also announced substantial investments in zero-emission vehicles to support our clean energy future. We must increase the urgency of these investments.
“Through it all, it is an honor to be trusted to serve Orange County in the State Assembly during this time and represent our community’s concerns. As Chair of the Accountability and Administrative Review Committee, I remain committed to ensuring that California taxpayer dollars are being used effectively and accountability measures are attached to these significant budget investments.
“The state budget process is an exciting opportunity to invest in improving the lives of all Californians. While there is still a long road ahead, the steady stream of research on the Omicron variant, its diminished health repercussions and a consequential lower rate of hospitalization gives us hope that we are equipped to make the final push and emerge from the pandemic once and for all. Let’s all work to make that future bright.”
Assemblywoman Petrie-Norris has authored legislation to provide direct relief for California businesses impacted by the pandemic, to protect the California coast, to expand healthcare access and to incentivize job growth. In last year’s budget, the Assemblywoman championed critical investments in Orange County, including funding for mental health services, open space preservation, wildfire prevention and emergency response.
The full summary of the Governor’s budget proposal can be found at http://www.ebudget.ca.gov. The California Constitution requires the Budget Act be approved by June 15, 2021.