“The state budget continues to be a good news, bad news story,” said Wood.
“Here’s the good news. I appreciate the funding we are getting to help people recover from and rebuild after the devastating wildfires last year. We’re getting funding to help backfill property tax and issues related to clean-up and we’re getting money for schools to replace the millions lost when students and their families were displaced.”
Earlier this year, Wood introduced AB 2551 which would access $250 million from the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund to be used to improve forest management and reduce wildfire risks. “That bill has been moving through the process,” said Wood, “but will not be needed because, in May, the Governor issued an Executive Order allocating $256 million for forest thinning and watershed management which aligns exactly with what we’ve been fighting for all along in my bill.”
This budget also provides funding for low-income housing, veteran’s resource centers, the California State University system – which includes $1.5 million to address student food insecurity and basic needs and $500 million to address our significant statewide homelessness issue.
“And here’s the bad news. Funding for making progress toward universal health care, however, is totally inadequate in this budget,” said Wood. “Although this budget funds what we consider to be the building blocks of universal health care – an all-payer data base that compiles what we currently pay various health care providers for services and a process to develop a roadmap, including timelines, to achieve a unified, publicly financed health care system – it does not go nearly far enough. Our proposals to acquire funding to make health care premiums more affordable for low- and middle-income folks and to expand Medi-Cal and make changes that allow aged, blind and disabled people to more easily qualify for care, were not included and this is very disappointing.”
“Where’s the money to help seniors?” asked Wood. “They are one of our most vulnerable populations. There were some really important budget asks for the MSSP, a senior services program that helps keep seniors in their homes instead of nursing homes. Where’s the money for the ombudsmen who help protect patients once they are in a nursing home? These two programs alone preserve dignity for these folks and can save the state millions in Medi-Cal payments to nursing homes when they can get the help they need to stay in their homes.”
“While this budget may provide some one-time funding to get the ball rolling, we will need a longer term commitment to get us where we need to be,” said Wood.