FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 6, 2020
LOS ANGELES, CA — UNITE-LA commends Gov. Gavin Newsom and the state Legislature on working together to put forth a budget that allows California to work towards economic recovery and does not slash critical programs that support Californians, especially from underserved communities of color and immigrant communities, to access education and economic opportunity.
This has been one of the most tumultuous years in our state’s history; one which has ravaged our health care systems, civil liberties, businesses and workforce. The current global pandemic has resulted in record high unemployment and contributed to the harshest economic downturn we have ever seen.
“Although many tough decisions had to be made, UNITE-LA thanks our leaders for continuing to invest in programs we strongly advocated for, including Early Childhood Education, the Strong Workforce Program, Calbright College and sensible smart justice initiatives,” said David Rattray, President & CEO of UNITE-LA. “We believe all of these investments are critical to ensuring Californians in our most vulnerable communities can access opportunities to take care of family needs during the state’s economic recovery.”
UNITE-LA is grateful the budget does not include a 10 percent trigger cut to all child care programs through their reimbursement rates. The current economic downturn has already contributed to a huge loss in revenue to most child care centers and an additional 10 percent decrease would have been catastrophic. Although the May Revise had proposed cutting K-12 spending by 8 percent, we were relieved to see that those cuts were rescinded and replaced with deferrals amounting to $12 billion. These deferrals will allow for small increases in school budgets and more importantly, prevents districts from laying off teachers and staff.
Similarly, proposed cuts in apportionments and categorical funding to the California Community College (CCC) system have been spared, paid for by $1.45 billion in deferrals, with $791 million of this amount being paid to the CCC system this year if HEROES Act is passed and funds are administered before October 1. As a result, programs vital to providing on-ramps into living wage career pathways, such as Strong Workforce and those aimed at closing the achievement gap like Student Equity and Achievement, will retain current levels of funding. These investments are more important than ever since community colleges are open access institutions that students and dislocated workers from vulnerable and underrepresented communities will increasingly utilize.
In addition, Calbright College will continue its work to serve students across the state with competency-based education virtually, albeit with a reduced budget. Although the UC and CSU systems budgets have been reduced by $970 million ($470 million and $500 million respectively), prior proposals included over a billion dollars in cuts and many of these cuts would be triggered off if HEROES Act is enacted. Finally, students attending private/non-profit postsecondary institutions will not see an expected cut to their Cal Grant Funding, in a reversal of policy traditionally outside of the scope of the budget.
The budget also includes a plan to close two state-owned and operated prisons by 2023 as part of a plan to balance the state budget. This proposal begins by closing one state prison in 2021-2022 and the second facility in 2022-2023, while also keeping Gov. Newsom’s plan to close all private, in-state contract correctional facilities for male inmates in 2020-2021. The budget also encompasses more than $100 million in savings from reduced incarceration due to Proposition 47. That money will be reallocated back to local communities for crime prevention programs, such as drug treatment, medical and mental health programs, and trauma recovery services to help survivors of crime heal. This budget moves the focus to investing more into our communities rather than failed criminal justice policies that have affected so many Californians, particularly African Americans and other communities of color.
“We understand the complexities and gravity of our economic challenges ahead and stand ready to work with Gov. Newsom, the state Legislature and advocates throughout the state to contribute to our economic recovery, allowing us to continue investing in programs that make California a state where everyone has the opportunity to succeed.”
Founded in 1998, UNITE-LA has established itself as a trusted business intermediary, dedicated to supporting the development of an effective local public education system, so that ALL children and youth succeed in college, career and beyond. Through the intersection of programming, policy, and systems change efforts, UNITE-LA works to increase access to high-quality early childhood education, develop career pathways in high-growth industries, improve college access and success, and ensure workforce readiness, especially for individuals with high barriers into employment.