On Monday, the Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Budget Process, Oversight, and Program Evaluation convened to address the State of California’s progress on addressing coronavirus (COVID-19). Chaired by Assembly Member Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), the subcommittee included several rural legislators - Jay Obernolte (R-Big Bear Lake), Joaquin Arambula (D-Fresno), Adam Gray (D-Merced), Devon Mathis (R-Visalia) and Dr. Jim Wood (D-Santa Rosa).
Similar to last week’s Senate hearing, this subcommittee hearing was informational to receive updates from the Legislative Analyst Office, the Department of Finance (DOF), the Office of Emergency Services, and the Health and Human Services Agency related to COVID-19 with a particular focus on the Administration’s expenditure of funds appropriated under Senate Bill 89, which was enacted several weeks ago. As noted in other reports, Members were particularly concerned about the contract with BYD (Personal Protective Equipment manufacturer) negotiated by the Newsom Administration for the acquisition of PPE.
RCRC extends special recognition and thanks to Assembly Member Wood and Assembly Member Gray for their comments addressing the concern that, with local government funding under the CARES Act restricted to those jurisdictions of 500,000 population or more, many areas are not eligible for federal assistance. In fact, NO jurisdiction in Dr. Wood’s district is eligible and MOST jurisdictions in Mr. Gray’s district are not eligible. Following that revelation, both Wood and Gray repeatedly questioned the DOF about how the Administration plans to meet the needs of small jurisdictions. Both also pressed about the need for support in these smaller jurisdictions, given the significant demand on local resources as a result of the pandemic. The DOF responded that it hopes Congress will make an adjustment in the next round of federal funding.
RCRC has joined with county partners to ensure that low-population counties receive appropriate funding as a result of actions by Congress and through implementation by the Newsom Administration. Updates on those advocacy efforts are contained in this special edition of The Barbed Wire.