- Support funding for broadband, including AB 1425 (Gipson), AB 1176 (E. Garcia), and SB 743 (Bradford) to ensure that high speed broadband service is available to every household in the State.
- Support AB 1456 (Medina), the Cal Grant Reform Act, which increases post-secondary educational accessibility for low-income students, including older students, adult learners, students who are parents, and students of color, while ensuring that students and families with modest incomes are not lost in the reconfigurations.
- Oppose SB 342 (Gonzales) which would expand the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) Board to 15 members by adding two appointed board members from the environmental justice community.
- Urge State leaders to engage with the transportation, employment, and supply chain sectors on lasting solutions for short- and long-term systems to sustain the transportation sector and delivery of critical goods and supplies.
- Support funding for broadband to ensure that high speed broadband service is available to every household in the State, including:
- AB 1425 (Gipson) which will provide for the transfer of $25M to the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) Public Housing Account for grants to connect all residents of publicly-subsidized multi-unit housing complexes throughout California.
- AB 1176 (E. Garcia) which will direct the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to develop and implement the California Connect Program, a subsidy program to ensure high-speed broadband is available to all households at affordable rates.
- SB 743 (Bradford) which will establish a grant program within the California Department of Housing and Community Development to fund broadband adoption, digital literacy, and computer equipment for low-income public housing residents.
- Support innovative and adaptive solutions for the establishment of a California Sustainable Logistics Center for Excellence (CSLCE) in the Inland Empire with other stakeholders.
- Support continued efforts to reduce homelessness, expand affordable housing, and maintain affordability of housing, including a fair allocation of funding to the Inland Empire from the Governor’s proposed $12B budget.
- Support the Governor’s proposed restoration of budget cuts and new investments in the California State University and University of California systems, as well as additional funding to help close graduation equity gaps, support undocumented students and foster youth, and invest in critical capital and infrastructure projects across campuses.
- Support AB 940 (McCarty), the College Mental Services Program Act, which allocates surplus funding from Proposition 63 to the State’s higher education segments to expand mental health services on campuses.
- Support AB 1456 (Medina), the Cal Grant Reform Act, which increases post-secondary educational accessibility for low-income students, including older students, adult learners, students who are parents, and students of color, while ensuring that students and families with modest incomes are not lost in the reconfigurations.
- Support investment in Master of Science in Physician Assistant training programs to address the severe shortage of medical doctors in the Inland Empire by expanding the size and scope of primary care teams.
- Oppose SB 342 (Gonzales) which would expand the South Coast Air Quality Management District to 15 members by adding two appointed board members from the environmental justice community.
- Support for funding for continued management of the Salton Sea.
- Support for Delta Conveyance Project.
- Support Enhanced Reliability of Long-Term Supplies, Storage and Drought Resiliency for Southern California through:
- Support for the Governor’s $5.1 billion budget proposal
- Support (with amendments) for AB 1500 (Garcia, E.): Safe Drinking Water, Wildfire Prevention, Drought Preparation, Flood Protection, Extreme Heat Mitigation, and Workforce Development Bond Act of 2022; and SB 45 (Portantino): Wildfire Prevention, Safe Drinking Water, Drought Preparation, and Flood Protection Bond Act of 2022.
- Support for SB 559 (Hurtado): Department of Water Resources- Water Conveyance Systems: Canal Conveyance Capacity Restoration Fund.
- Support Water Purveyor Consolidation Efforts and Incentivizing funding.
- Secure Funding for Monitoring and Remediation of PFAS
- Support for programs that seek to achieve California Clean Air and emissions goals in an equitable manner and with respect for local control through:
- Support for AB 1261 (Burke) – State Air Resources Board: Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Incentive Programs.
- Support for SB 662 (Archuleta) – Energy: Transportation Sector: Hydrogen.
- Oppose AB 650 (Muratsuchi), the Health Care Workers Recognition and Retention Act, which will require covered employers to pay hazard pay retention bonuses to health care workers it employs.
- Support the CalAIM program a multi-year initiative to improve the quality of life and health outcomes by creating reforms in the Medi-Cal program.
- Support judicial funding of $4.8B at the level requested in the Governor’s Proposed Budget which will restore funding to Inland Empire Courts to pre-pandemic levels and provide new funding to keep up with the increased cost of doing business, invest in technology, and provide greater access to justice.
- Support continued funding for public transit and mobility projects aligned with the advancement of interstate high speed rail connecting Metrolink in Rancho Cucamonga to the Victor Valley and alternatives including increased access to the Inland Empire region of Southern California.
- Request State support and increased funding for transit connectivity to Ontario International Airport.
- Urge State leaders to engage with the transportation, employment, and supply chain sectors on lasting solutions for short- and long-term systems to sustain the transportation sector and delivery of critical goods and supplies.
- Urge State coordination with Federal Environmental Protection Agency to reset the current trajectory for compliance with Clean Air Act pollution standards and/or provisions for withholding of federal transportation funds for non-compliance.
Support funding for broadband to ensure that high speed broadband service is available to every household in the State, including AB 1425 (Gipson), AB 1176 (E. Garcia) and SB 743 (Bradford). The COVID-19 pandemic reinforced the importance of closing the Digital Divide and underscored our reliance on broadband — high-speed Internet infrastructure including both wireline and wireless networks. Broadband connectivity is essential for distance learning, telehealth, remote work, job training, and employment applications. Yet almost nine million low-income residents in California are digitally-disadvantaged— nearly five million are unserved (not connected to the Internet at home) and four million are under-connected (have only a smartphone which is not adequate for students to do schoolwork). These households also are the most economically-disadvantaged — 41% are people with disabilities, and 43% are seniors. Further, the residents in publicly-subsidized multi-unit housing complexes are by definition the poorest and most vulnerable Californians who need to be connected to the Internet to protect their public safety, health, and quality of life. Three current bills aim to improve connectivity to these specific populations:
AB 1425 (Gipson) will provide for the transfer of $25M to the California Advanced Services Fund (CASF) Public Housing Account for grants to connect all residents of publicly-subsidized multi-unit housing complexes throughout California. The grants will be available to all publicly-subsidized housing complex organizations (government housing authorities, non-profit affordable housing organizations, and farmworker housing built with government assistance) to ensure Internet connectivity in all residential units, provide digital literacy training, and assist residents in getting appropriate computing devices.
The CASF Public Housing Account does not depend on the General Fund. The most efficient way to get everyone connected in affordable housing is to take the modest step of dedicating $25M a year from CASF funds authorized by the Legislature until the goal of getting all residents connected is accomplished. Inland Action urges support for AB 1425.
SB 743 (Bradford) will establish a grant program within the California Department of Housing and Community Development to fund broadband adoption, digital literacy, and computer equipment for low-income public housing residents.
More specifically, SB 743 will require the department to award grants to eligible public housing facilities for the purpose of providing one-time funding for computer equipment and to establish computer labs and ongoing funding for up to three years for broadband service and digital literacy programs.
SB 743 addresses the most common barriers to broadband adoption, i.e., cost of service, lack of devices, and the lack of digital skills. Inland Action urges support for SB 743.
AB 1176 (E. Garcia) which will direct the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to develop and implement the California Connect Program, a subsidy program to ensure high-speed broadband is available to all households at affordable rates.
The digital divide is a decades-old challenge for California, but the COVID-19 pandemic put a spotlight and renewed urgency on the issue. The transition to distance learning more than a year ago left an astonishing number of K-12 and college students not fully equipped to participate in their online classes. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, slightly more than one in four California students did not have internet access available at home. The share was even larger among children in low-income families (43%), Black households (39%) and Latino families (33%). Before the pandemic, students without reliable internet at home consistently scored lower in science, math and reading – which some educators refer to as the homework gap.
While the State has made remarkable improvement in ensuring students have computer devices at home, access to affordable high-speed broadband remains a major challenge, particularly for underserved populations that have been hardest hit during the pandemic-induced economic downturn. A 2021 survey by the California Emerging Technology Fund confirmed that 68% of households that did not have an internet connection cited cost as the principal reason.
AB 1176 aims to address internet disparities for Californians in underserved rural and low-income urban communities. This bill would direct the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to develop and implement the California Connect Program, a subsidy program to ensure high-speed broadband is available to all households at affordable rates. Inland Action urges support for AB 1176 to help bridge the digital divide and ensure all California students have the opportunity to reach their full potential.
Support a sustainable transportation sector in the Inland Empire, including legislative support for the establishment of a California Sustainable Logistics Center for Excellence in the Inland Empire. Globally, the logistics and supply chain industry market are projected to grow significantly over the next decade. In the Inland Empire, the region’s future has become inextricably linked with this projected growth in logistics. The overall economic strength of the region lies in its vast logistics sector. However, the growth of the logistics and supply chain sector has left little time or capacity for the region to collectively consider the long-term impacts of these industries on local communities, workforce, and global trade competitiveness. Significant investment is needed for a sustainable logistics consortium, with input from all sectors, including industry, education, government, and labor, that will anchor the innovation and opportunity within this sector to generate sustainable growth and continued economic development.
Inland Action encourages the Inland Empire’s industry, education, government, and labor to convene to collectively spearhead initiatives in the supply chain and logistics domain in strategic synergy and alignment with existing and evolving initiatives in the Inland Empire and across California. This consortium will develop a model for the worldwide research and innovation community engaged in supply chain and logistics engineering and management, smart regulatory design, and technology.
Inland Action urges support from State legislators for innovative and adoptive solutions for the establishment of a California Sustainable Logistics Center for Excellence in the Inland Empire. This work will bring the region together to transform the Inland Empire and the Southern California corridor into the world’s exemplar of next generation sustainable logistics. Inland Action asks for support in championing the consortium of community groups, including industry, education, government, and labor, to improve the lives of all of the residents of the Inland Empire.
Support continued efforts to reduce homelessness, expand affordable housing, and maintain affordability of housing, including a fair allocation of funding to the Inland Empire from the Governor’s proposed $12B budget. Homelessness in California and San Bernardino/Riverside Counties has become a serious issue that requires local and State representatives to take action. The impact of increased homelessness negatively impacts the homeless individual/family, local businesses, and communities as a whole. Substantial financial resources have been committed to the issue in the past, and the Governor has suggested a budget of $12B for 2021. However, for too long resources have been ineffectively used to adequately address this most challenging issue. Representatives must partner with local low-income housing developers, not-for-profit organizations, and law enforcement to identify those in need and to provide adequate housing and proven services. Circumstances that result in homelessness are numerous and heartbreaking. It is the responsibility of our communities to care for the neediest; however, there is a shared responsibility for those in need to participate in the solution.
Action is required by all Inland Empire elected representatives to unite on this issue and make this a priority with smart solutions that serve the local community. We have the resources to accomplish the following:
- Housing stability through short- and long-term housing combined with sustainable support services that require accountability.
- Physical and behavioral health services tied to housing placement/retention.
- Family engagement and re-engagement.
- Drug and alcohol rehabilitation services.
- Employment, job training and support services.
- Local action to eliminate homeless camps. Homeless camps have been responsible for elevated criminal activity, fire safety issues, lost business opportunities, illness, and many other serious concerns. (Example – Santa Ana River camp removal.)
Examples of Local Resources:
- National CORE/Hope Through Housing – Successful low income housing developer, operator, service provider.
- Goodwill of Southern California – Provides job placement services for the most vulnerable.
- United Way of Inland Empire – Provides services and links to services.
- Local Food Banks.
- Local faith based organizations – Churches and other organizations that provide food, job, housing, health, and additional services.
- Rivers Edge Ranch – Provides drug/alcohol rehabilitation services with onsite medium term (up to 3 years) housing and job placement.
Affordable Housing is a State and federal issue that needs collective attention. According to a 2021 report by California Housing Partnership, it is estimated that California needs an additional 1.2M more affordable homes by 2030. Median rent in the State has increased 35% since 2000 while median renter income has remained essentially flat. In San Bernardino and Riverside Counties, 110,000 low-income renter households do not have access to an affordable home, with over 79% of extremely low-income households paying more than half of their income on housing costs.
In the 1990’s, Congress launched the Housing First initiative with respect to federal homeless policy. Housing First is an approach that offers permanent, affordable housing as quickly as possible for individuals and families experiencing homelessness, and then provides connections to the community-based support people need to keep their housing and avoid returning to homelessness. However, this approach has not been utilized by over 2 million federally assisted affordable housing units funded by the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC), project-based Section 8 program, Rural Rental Housing (RHS) Section 515 program, and other programs, due to the fact that there are essentially no federal mechanisms or funding to provide supportive services for such residents.
What is needed is a unified State, local, and federal approach that breaks down artificial silos in order the improve residents’ lives through innovative solutions and supportive services.
Research Resources: The Evidence Behind Approaches that Drive an End to Homelessness September 2019; produced by the United States Interagency for Homelessness recommends the following strategies:
- Reduce the risk of housing crises. Communities must address the wide range of policies contributing to the availability of, and access to, an adequate supply of safe and affordable housing; health and behavioral health resources; education, meaningful, and gainful employment; opportunities for economic mobility; affordable childcare; and legal aid.
- Reduce the risk of homelessness while households are engaged with or are transitioning from systems. Individuals or families are often engaged with multiple public systems, such as health and behavioral health care, child welfare, and the juvenile and criminal justice systems prior to experiencing homelessness. Those systems must work together to increase awareness of and attentiveness to housing stability, as well as strengthen their transition and/or discharge planning activities that link people to other resources, including employment and other economic mobility supports. Communities can also consider policies that increase access to home-visiting programs, family support networks, school-based supports, and other community-based programs that focus on strong families and positive youth development. Family preservation and reunification can also be explored, whenever safe and appropriate, in order to address the disproportionate impact of homelessness on single mothers and youth of color.
- Target assistance to prevent housing crises that do occur from escalating further and resulting in homelessness. Targeted assistance may include a combination of financial assistance, mediation and diversion, housing location, legal assistance, employment services, or other supports—many of which can be provided by public, non-profit, faith-based, and philanthropic programs within the community. Housing status assessments are important tools for programs to effectively identify the most at-risk households, to connect them to the supportive services and/or resources that will best respond to their housing crisis.
Inland Action supports economic empowerment programs aimed at developing family economic mobility and self-sufficiency that have a proven track record of effectiveness in helping families improve their skills, find and keep a job, and build funds for a down payment to buy a home. Family self-sufficiency programs also accelerate the rate at which families no longer need affordable housing, thus freeing up scarce affordable rental units to other families in need. Metrics for measuring success include, increased employment income, decreased debt, improved credit score, increased savings, and increased homeownership.
Support the Governor’s proposed restoration of budget cuts to the California State University (CSU) and University of California (UC), as well as new and additional investments to help close graduation equity gaps and invest in critical capital and infrastructure projects across campuses. The CSU and UC serve more than 485,000 and 280,000 students, respectively, with nearly 50,000 students combined attending the local San Bernardino CSU and Riverside UC campuses. CSU San Bernardino and UC Riverside are powerful economic engines in the region and State and are recognized among the top U.S. colleges and universities educating economically disadvantaged students and graduating them into well-paying jobs.
Both systems took deep budget reductions – nearly $300M each – in the current fiscal year due to the negative impacts of the pandemic to the State’s fiscal situation. Inland Action supports full restoration of these budget reductions as agreed to in February by the Governor and legislative leaders in their early budget actions.
Inland Action urges the Legislature to support the Governor’s January and May budget proposals for recurring funds to CSU and UC to help the systems continue their progress in eliminating equity achievement gaps and improving graduation rates to help meet the demand for four-year college graduates in California.
Inland Action also urges the Legislature to seize the historic opportunity in which the State finds itself today to invest one-time funds requested by both systems to help address billions of dollars of deteriorating infrastructure across the twenty-three CSU and nine UC campuses.
Support AB 940 (McCarty), the College Mental Services Program Act, to expand student mental health services at the California State University (CSU), University of California (UC), and California Community College (CCC) campuses. AB 940 would appropriate funding to the three systems of public higher education on an ongoing basis from the underutilized Administrative Account of the Mental Health Services Act (Proposition 63) to expand student mental health services. Passed in 2004, Proposition 63 provides funds for a broad continuum of prevention, early intervention, and the necessary technology, infrastructure, and training elements to support public behavioral health. The Administrative Account of the Act receives up to five percent of these funds for oversight and implementation by State agencies, and tens of millions of dollars in this account goes unspent each year. The account has held an end-of-year balance as high as $130 million and is projected to have an ending balance of $46 million for FY 2021-22.
Student well-being and mental health are central to basic needs initiatives at all three systems of public higher education in California, which serve approximately 2.8M students, but ensuring adequate mental health services for college students has been an ongoing challenge for our public colleges and universities.
Campuses have created partnerships with county behavioral health departments to provide wrap-around care and long-term services for students struggling with their mental health. Despite these efforts, the need for additional services remains. Recurring funding is vital to providing these essential services to students so that campuses have the resources to hire trained counselors who can meet one-on-one with students, bolstering partnerships with already existing services, such as county programs, and helping students navigate these systems.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, 40% of college students reported experiencing a significant mental health problem, including depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and suicidal ideation. Today, research indicates that those who report they struggle with mental health issues are twice as likely to drop out of school; one in four students has a diagnosable mental illness; and 40% of students do not seek mental health services when they need it. Additionally, eight out of 10 people who experience psychosis have their first episode between 15 and 30 years of age.
Support AB 1456 (Medina), the Cal Grant Reform Act, which will increase post-secondary educational accessibility for low-income students, including older students, adult learners, students who are parents, and students of color, while ensuring that students and families with modest incomes are not lost in the reconfiguration of the Cal Grant program. AB 1456 aims to simplify and modernize the Cal Grant system so that many more nontraditional and marginalized students are eligible for these awards. The Cal Grant program makes college affordable for middle- and low-income Californians. While California’s financial aid grant is among the most generous in the country, the Cal Grant leaves out thousands of students each year who are older and took more than a year to enroll in college after completing high school. Around 40% of the 2.1M California Community Colleges students are 25 and older, yet just five percent receive the Cal Grant. At the UC and CSU, where far fewer undergraduate students are older than 24, more than a third receive Cal Grants.
AB 1456 will overhaul the Cal Grant system by:
- Removing the Cal Grant’s time-out-of-high-school and age restrictions.
- Eliminating the minimum GPA requirement for community college students and lowering it from 3.0 to 2.0 for students attending four-year institutions.
- Removing the age cap that prevents students 28 and older from receiving a guaranteed Cal Grant if they transfer from a community college to a four-year university.
- Aligning Cal Grant income eligibility to the federal Pell Grant to further simplify financial aid.
Inland Action supports reconfiguring the Cal Grant framework to provide equitable access to programs and funds for low- and middle-income students who attend public and private nonprofit colleges and universities. Inland Action urges lawmakers to pass a comprehensive bill that will ensure students and families with modest incomes are not adversely impacted by changes to the program that would disqualify families who fall just outside of Pell Grant eligibility, which represents about 20% of the Cal Grant recipient population.
Support investment in Master of Science in Physician Assistant training programs to address the severe shortage of medical doctors in the Inland Empire by expanding the size and scope of primary care teams. The State’s supply of primary care physicians is significantly below what is considered sufficient to meet patient needs. According to the Healthforce Center at University of California, San Francisco, the Inland Empire has the lowest physician to resident ratio in the State. The two-county region has fewer than 30 primary care physicians for every 100,000 residents, far below the recommended 70 per 100,000 people.
California State University, San Bernardino (CSUSB), seeks to establish a Master’s of Science in Physician Assistant (MSPA) program to manage the growing demand for primary care physicians in the Inland Empire by quickly expanding primary care teams. CSUSB would be the first public university in the Inland Southern California region to offer the MSPA.
Graduate-level physician assistants, working together with physicians, is a proven model for delivering high-quality, cost-efficient patient care. Licensed physician assistants are authorized to practice in virtually all areas of medicine and surgery, and training physician assistants takes fewer years (three) and is less expensive than preparing physicians for practice, which can take up to eight or more years.
The California Health Care Foundation reports that the greatest indicator of where physicians and healthcare workers practice is where these individuals complete their training. Studies show that people who grow up in underserved areas are more likely to practice there if they are trained in that region to become physicians and other healthcare professionals. With this in mind, CSUSB will offer preferred admission to Inland Empire residents who apply to and meet the MSPA qualifications, with the purpose of retaining these skilled health professionals in the region.
Oppose SB 342 (Gonzales) which would expand the South Coast Air Quality Management District to 15 members by adding two appointed board members from the environmental justice community. This diminishes local control and is unnecessary. Rather than empowering locally elected officials, who are accountable to their constituents, SB 342 increases the number of unelected representatives appointed from Sacramento. This move gives State-appointed non-elected representatives one-third of the seats on a regional board that is meant to represent local interests and is currently represented by city and county officials from four Southern California counties. The members are selected through a transparent city selection process involving includes a diverse pool of 20 county supervisors and 848 mayors and city council members. The South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) was established with local control in mind, and the elected officials serving on the SCAQMD Board have a responsibility to their voters. This obligation will be weakened by adding more appointees who are not accountable to the public. By transferring further regional authority to State appointees, SB 342 undermines local control.
The bill seeks to solve a non-existent problem. The SCAQMD has a well-documented history of engaging the community on environmental justice-related issues and concerns. Also, SCAQMD already has an Environmental Justice Advisory Group (EJAG) made up of 30 diverse members and is chaired by a SCAQMD board member. As an advisory group to the SCAQMD, the EJAG’s mission is to advise and assist SCAQMD in protecting and improving public health of the District’s most impacted communities. Inland Action urges respect for local control and opposes this unnecessary legislation.
Support for funding for continued management of the Salton Sea. Although the Salton Sea is located in Riverside County, few projects in our region come anywhere near the Salton Sea in terms of the potential for calamity or, conversely, enormous gain. The Salton Sea is impacted by rising salinity of the Sea, as well as changes in runoff from irrigated agriculture (supplied by Colorado River water). Reduced water flows to the Sea could result in the exposure of nearly 100 square miles of dry lakebed, resulting in diminished habitat, significant air quality problems, and a damaged economy. A key issue at the Salton Sea is exposure of previously submerged lakebed, known as playa, as the lake surface shrinks. This playa exposure is subject to wind erosion and can be a source of fine airborne dust smaller than 10 micrometers, known as particulate matter 10, or PM10; as well as a source of PM 2.5. The dust is a significant health hazard and can contribute to respiratory illness in humans. It can also damage agricultural crops and wildlife and harm the region’s tourism industry. Areas downwind from the Sea are already suffering from severe non-attainment for PM10 under the Clean Air Act. These areas suffer the highest rates of childhood asthma in California, with emergency room admissions for children under four years of age roughly twice the State average. In the near future, tens of millions of citizens downwind from the Sea could be impacted by dust blown from the playa into densely urbanized areas throughout Southern California.
In recent years, local, State, tribal, and federal governments have achieved significant progress in addressing the long-term management of the Salton Sea. These efforts have resulted in the development of the Salton Sea Funding and Feasibility Action Plan, a living document and framework for the future management of the Salton Sea, and Phase I of the Salton Sea Management Program 10-Year Plan, which guides investments at the Salton Sea in line with an MOU between the United States Department of the Interior and the California Natural Resources Agency. Current efforts are designed to address playa exposure by developing habitat or dust suppression projects on exposed playa.
With a plan in place, and funding generally available to the projects through the 2018 Farm Bill at the federal level and through the passage of Proposition 68 at the State level, it is critical that funding be delivered to these projects in a timely and efficient manner. At the State level, the following steps are suggested:
- Salton Sea Management Program. Support efforts by the Salton Sea Management Program implemented by the California Natural Resources Agency, the California Department of Water Resources and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Their work includes a 10-year plan that aims to improve conditions by constructing 30,000 acres of habitat and dust suppression projects around the Sea, while also establishing a long-term pathway for the Salton Sea beyond the next decade, including work to evaluate the feasibility of water importation as a strategy for restoration of the Salton Sea.
- Species Conservation Habitat Project. Currently under construction, this $206.5M plan will build ponds and wetlands along the small delta to provide wildlife habitat and suppress dust. The final design includes 340 additional acres of coverage as compared to older projections and is expected to be finished by 2024. The project is estimated to create as many as 3,000 jobs. We urge the State to continue support for this project.
- Blue Ribbon Commission on Lithium Extraction in the Salton Sea. Assembly Bill 1657, authored by Assembly member Eduardo Garcia, created the commission. A report on findings and recommendations for advancing lithium extraction from geothermal brines in California to the California State Legislature is required to be submitted by October 1, 2022. Interest in lithium is increasing due to its prevalence in lithium-ion batteries, which are used to power portable electronics, electric vehicles and other technology. Lithium is abundant around the Salton Sea area and has the potential to play an important role in the region’s future economic development and environmental recovery. Inland Action supports this study and encourages the State to continue its support for this study and others like it.
Support for Delta Conveyance Project. Water reliability is a vital issue for Inland Southern California, including for major local State water contractors such as the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District, and Mojave Water Agency. Inland Action supports upgrading the State’s infrastructure to improve conveyance in the Delta and ensure more reliable long-term water deliveries for the State Water Project, which provides 30% of Southern California’s water. Inland Action also supports continued federal funding for scientific research and habitation restoration in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to advance ecosystem improvements in support of California’s coequal goals of water supply reliability and Delta ecosystem restoration.
Enhance Reliability of Long-Term Supplies, Storage and Drought Resiliency for Southern California. Diverse sources of water supplies, increased water storage capacity and enhanced resilience to drought are high priorities to maintain and grow California’s economy. Inland Action supports actions to implement measures that improve California’s water reliability and drought preparedness, including support for the following:
- Support for Budget Proposals for Water Infrastructure and Drought Response Investments Including the Governor’s $5.1B Proposal. As California appears headed into another serious period of drought, Inland Action recognizes the tremendous investment the State and local water purveyors have made in infrastructure to build capacity and resilience. Southern California is well positioned but still requires investment in its water infrastructure. Inland Action supports State efforts to fund water and wastewater infrastructure, water reliability projects, and water conveyance projects.
In addition, it supports additional funding for habitat restoration projects that are essential to balancing the need for continued economic development with preservation of natural spaces. The Governor’s $5.1B budget proposal would achieve these goals. In addition, to the extent the proposals do not overlap, Inland Action supports the $2B proposal in the Build Back Boldly budget to address and mitigate the impacts of drought, including: $500M to help smaller, lower income communities for immediate drinking water, local water supply, and water efficiency investments; $500M for homeowners/small businesses/local agencies to replace high water consumption landscapes with water efficient landscapes; $300M for emergency assistance to agriculture/local and regional agencies; and $700M for other one time and immediate investments in water quality, species protections, stormwater, water recycling water monitoring equipment and other investments to reduce drought impacts.
- Support (With Amendments) for AB 1500 (Garcia, E.): Safe Drinking Water, Wildfire Prevention, Drought Preparation, Flood Protection, Extreme Heat Mitigation, and Workforce Development Bond Act of 2022, and SB 45 (Portantino): Wildfire Prevention, Safe Drinking Water, Drought Preparation, and Flood Protection Bond Act of 2022. Inland Action supports AB 1500 and SB 45 provided that they are amended to include funding to strengthen regional water resilience, repair critical conveyance infrastructure, improve water quality and maintain funding for essential freshwater habitat restoration activities. As written, AB 1500 and SB 45 would create the funding to help combat drought threats to our region, but it is respectfully requested that the legislation incorporate additional funding for the following priorities that are essential and would help Southern California maintain and diversify its water supplies: grants to advance recycled water for potable reuse; funding to repair carrying capacity of critical conveyance facilities affected by subsidence; funding to address monitoring and treatment of PFAS and other emerging constituents of concern; and funding for habitat restoration.
- Support for SB 559 (Hurtado): Department of Water Resources- Water Conveyance Systems: Canal Conveyance Capacity Restoration Fund. The California water project, in particular the Friant Kern Canal and Delta Mendota Canal have experienced significant impacts in efficiency due to subsidence. SB 599 establishes the Canal Conveyance Capacity Restoration Fund that would provide up to $785M in funding for the Department of Water Resources (DWR) to help pay for subsidence repairs to the State Water Project and Central Valley Project water conveyance systems. The Fund would provide funding to DWR to support a 10-year program to restore the capacity of the canals and ensure a more secure water supply. Funds could be used to cover one-third of the cost to restore the capacity of the canals. A federal companion bill is envisioned that would provide one-third the cost and local partners would contribute the remaining one-third of the cost.
Support for Water Purveyor Consolidation Efforts and Incentivizing funding. In recent years, the State of California has looked for mechanisms to address significant infrastructure and water quality issues associated with small, typically private, water systems. This is a significant problem in rural areas, particularly the Central Valley, but it is also a problem in our region. Most stakeholders agree that consolidation of these water systems is one mechanism to address this. Unfortunately, efforts to address the issues have thus far focused on the prospect of a universal water tax, paid by all customers on a per unit or per person basis. This is not the way to go. Instead, Inland Action supports funding to incentivize consolidation of water systems, ideally into public bodies with local accountability and decision-making. Incentivizing consolidation requires significant funds to address infrastructure needs and address water quality problems (see above).
Secure Funding for Monitoring and Remediation of PFAS. Ensuring safe drinking water is a fundamental requirement for healthy communities and economies. With growing concerns about the presence in some water supplies of a family of chemicals known as per- and polyfluoralkyl substances (PFAS), water agencies are working to ensure inland Southern California has a safe and reliable drinking water supply. Inland Action supports administrative and legislative actions to secure funding to help public water agencies defray the cost of monitoring and/or remediation of constituents (including PFAS) in drinking water supplies, including full cost-recovery by drinking water and wastewater providers. Inland Action supports legislation that accomplishes the above goals while protecting public water and wastewater agencies (and, therefore, their ratepayers) from third-party liability associated with new standards.
Support for Programs That Seek to Achieve California Clean Air and Emissions Goals in an Equitable Manner and with Respect for Local Control. Inland Action supports legislation designed to help California achieve clean air and greenhouse gas emissions goals in a manner that is equitable, does not unnecessarily impact economic growth, and that respects the right to local self-determination. This includes the following positions:
- Support for AB 1261 (Burke) – State Air Resources Board: Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Incentive Programs. AB 1261 would require the California Air Resources Board (CARB), on or before January 1, 2023, to establish specified processes to assist the State in achieving its greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals, including a process to identify any overlap among its incentive programs that share the same objectives and a process to define, collect, and evaluate data on the behavioral changes that result from each of its incentive programs. The bill would require CARB to use the information collected pursuant to these processes to refine the greenhouse gas emissions estimates for each of its incentive programs in its annual reports to the Legislature, its funding plans, and any long-term planning documents or reports.Over the past 15 years the legislature and Governors, both past and present, have set forth aggressive greenhouse gas emissions goals for the State; relying heavily on CARB to implement regulations and incentives to help reach those goals. In so doing, CARB has spent a portion of the $2B raised from the greenhouse gas reduction fund to implement and incentivize these programs.Unfortunately, based on the auditor’s findings, the benefits both to the State’s goals and local communities remains unclear. Given the State’s ambitious goals and limited funding, Inland Action agrees with the State Auditor that, “the State needs more accurate program measurement to guide its greenhouse gas investments and increase the chances of meeting its greenhouse gas goals.” Without accurate and validated data, the legislature has no way of knowing if funding is being spent on the right programs and benefitting disadvantaged communities as is required by statute.Especially troubling was the revelation that in 2016, 80% of the $42M required to be spent in disadvantaged communities took place outside of those communities. This is an unacceptable outcome that must be remedied. AB 1261 helps to do that by ensuring that the most critical recommendations are actioned, and that the legislature has oversight into the funding it is allocating to CARB to implement these incentive programs. For these reasons and others, Inland Action urges support for AB 1261.
- Support for SB 662 (Archuleta) – Energy: Transportation Sector: Hydrogen. SB 662 authorizes gas utilities to file applications at the California Public Utilities Commission to accelerate the buildout of refueling stations for fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEV) to advance the environmental objectives of the State.Utility investment in critical technologies is a proven success with electrical utilities. SB 662 builds on those successes, including a reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) and NOx emissions by allowing gas IOUs to participate in the decarbonization efforts of the transportation sector through the advancement of hydrogen transportation fuel. The transportation sector is the largest source of GHG emissions in the State. Direct emissions from vehicle tailpipe account for 40 percent of all Statewide emissions. The primary barriers of entry for both Zero Emission Vehicles (ZEVs) are cost and infrastructure, and for Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs), lack of range. Increasing the number of hydrogen stations should facilitate increased sales of fuel cell electric zero-emission vehicles, by making refueling easily accessible. Hydrogen, and especially green hydrogen, as a fuel is cleaner than gasoline or diesel.According to the Air Resources Board, hydrogen is already the most renewable fuel in California at 38% to 44% renewable hydrogen, surpassing the 33% renewable mandate. Additionally, the hydrogen industry has announced its commitment to decarbonize 100 percent of hydrogen fuel used in the transportation sector by 2030. FCEVs do not have the range, weight and charging time limitations of plug-in technologies. These limitations prevent BEVs from operating in several heavy, high use applications. Without additional options, users will stick with the status quo of highly polluting diesel trucks. HD-FCEVs offer several benefits over HD Diesel trucks: Cheaper operating cost per mile, no noise pollution, no idling, substantial increase of torque and significant reduction in NOx and GHGs. FCEVs are the only zero emission option for many Californians who live in multi-unit dwellings with no access to onsite charging infrastructure, which is a particular obstacle for lower income customersCalifornia is the clear leader in zero emission vehicles because it has invested in renewable energy and zero emission technologies, but in order to continue on this path, it should expand options to include FCEVs for the reasons mentioned above. Utility investment in the State’s hydrogen refueling network is good policy for the State, and it will build upon the success to date which in turn will continue to reduce harmful emissions and help the State’s economy and climate goals. Inland Action encourages support for SB 662.
Oppose AB 650 (Muratsuchi), the Health Care Workers Recognition and Retention Act, which will require covered employers to pay hazard pay retention bonuses to health care workers it employs. This would be in addition to all other compensation due and is not part of the health care worker’s regular rate of pay. The bill creates a State mandated bonus structure for employees of private entities.
Statewide, AB 650 would impose an estimated $6 billion in unfunded, increased costs that could be passed along to patients in the form of higher insurance rates, copays, and reduced access to vital health services. The additional mandated $5 per hour of work performed would not only be prospective but would be applied retroactively to January 1, 2021, and through the termination of the COVID-19 State of Emergency, which has no fixed end date.
Health care workers are, indeed, heroes, serving our communities valiantly during the COVID-19 pandemic. That is why hospitals have gone to great lengths and spent hundreds of millions of dollars to provide bonuses and pay increases, childcare services, and subsidies; extended leave; wellness and counseling support; and temporary housing.
Complying with this mandate will force hospitals to consider difficult, but necessary decisions. Faced with billions in unfunded higher costs, many hospitals will need to alter capital improvement plans, eliminate services, or even shut down altogether — jeopardizing access to care at the worst possible time.
Support efforts to implement the California Advancing and Innovating Medi-Cal Program. The California Advancing and Innovating Medi-Cal (CalAIM) is a multi-year initiative by the Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) to improve the quality of life and health outcomes of our population by implementing broad delivery system, program, and payment reform across the Medi-Cal program. The major components of CalAIM build upon the successful outcomes of various pilots (including but not limited to the Whole Person Care Pilots (WPC), Health Homes Program (HHP), and the Coordinated Care Initiative from the previous federal waivers and will result in a better quality of life for Medi-Cal members, as well as long-term cost savings/avoidance.
CalAIM has three primary goals: 1) Identify and manage member risk and need through whole person care approaches and addressing Social Determinants of Health. 2) Move Medi-Cal to a more consistent and seamless system by reducing complexity and increasing flexibility. 3) Improve quality outcomes, reduce health disparities, and drive delivery system transformation and innovation through value-based initiatives, modernization of systems, and payment reform.
In the Inland Empire there are currently 1.8M residents receiving Medi-Cal assistance. CalAIM provides an opportunity to serve these individuals in a strategic and holistic manner, addressing social determinants of health and improving lives throughout the community. Inland Action supports this positive and transformative proposal.
Support judicial funding of $4.1B at the level requested in the Governor’s Proposed Budget which will restore funding to Inland Empire Courts to pre-pandemic levels and provide new funding to keep up with the increased cost of doing business, invest in technology, and provide access to justice. The Superior Courts serving the Inland Empire (both San Bernardino and Riverside Counties) have historically been underfunded. While recent adjustments to the formula for allocation of judicial funding among Superior Courts has addressed some of this structural inequity, the COVID-19 pandemic erased much of that progress due to the sudden and substantial anticipated decreases in State revenues. Fortunately, the Governor’s FY 2021-2022 budget proposes to restore the funding cut last year due to the pandemic provide increased funding necessary for the Courts to improve their core service – the access to justice for the people of our region.
The growth of the Inland Empire also requires increased capital investment to provide the physical space and facilities for the Court to do its work in the places where people are increasing choosing to live. Our region is not only short of the number of judges it needs to deliver justice in a timely and effective manner but places for those judges actually to sit and hear cases. Adequate funding for court construction must also be included in Legislative appropriations.
Action: Inland Action supports funding for the judicial branch at the $4.1B level proposed by the Governor. This represents $381.1M in new monies for the courts statewide, but only 1.3% of the General Fund. The increased funding, along with the recently-improved funding formula the Judicial Council employs to allocate funding among the Superior Courts, will not only restore funding to the Courts of the Inland Empire to pre-pandemic levels, but the new money provided will also allow them to keep up with the increased cost of doing business and invest in technology to provide greater access to justice.
Background: The Inland Empire is comprised of two of the largest and fastest-growing counties in the State – San Bernardino and Riverside. San Bernardino County is the largest in the State (in fact, the largest in the contiguous 48 states), while Riverside is the fourth largest in the State. The combined population in the region exceeds 4.5M. According to the Judicial Council, San Bernardino County has experienced a 13% growth in population in the last decade, and Riverside County has experienced a 30% growth in population in recent years.
Unfortunately, our Courts have been historically underfunded. For example, the San Bernardino Superior Court as recently as FY 2013-2014 was funded at only 47.6% of its need. Recent adjustments to the formula for allocation of judicial funding among the Superior Courts has gradually improved the situation in the years since, and by FY 2018-2019, the Court was funded at 82.9% of need, leaving “only” a gap of 17.1% between the judicial needs of the people of the County and the funding provided to service those needs.
When the COVID-19 pandemic struck in March 2020, however, much of that progress was lost due to the substantial drop in anticipated State revenues resulting from the pandemic. The San Bernardino Superior Court saw an $11M drop in its budgeted revenue between the Governor’s January 2020 budget proposal and the May 2020 revise. The Court went from being funded at almost 83% of need down to 70% of need. Of course, the pandemic increased the Court’s actual operational costs by necessitating additional custodial and disinfecting services, installation of plexiglass barriers, securing remote space for jurors, and purchase of personal protective equipment.
The Inland Region is also in severe need of increased courthouse space, not only to deliver timely and effective justice, but to deliver it closer to where the people in need of those services live. In San Bernardino County, for example, the Judicial Council has determined that there is an “immediate need” to add two courtrooms to the Juvenile Dependency Courthouse in San Bernardino. The Judicial Council has also determined that there is a “critical need” to construct a new, much-larger, courthouse in Victorville to serve the needs of the High Desert region. Presently the small courthouse there can handle only juvenile, family-law, and criminal matters. All civil matters are heard in San Bernardino. Thus, civil litigants in Victorville cannot go to their local courthouse, they have to commute at least 40 miles over the Cajon Pass to downtown San Bernardino. Litigants farther to the north or east must travel even farther, often for several hours, and pass by the Victorville courthouse to have their day in court in San Bernardino. As the population of the High Desert continues to expand, the situation will only worsen unless this “critical need” for new courthouse facilities in Victorville are met.
The Governor’s FY 2021-2022 budget is beneficial to our Superior Courts in the Inland Empire in that it not only restores funding to pre-pandemic levels, but also includes new monies that will help the courts keep up with the increased costs of doing their business and invest in technology to provide greater access to judgment. The new monies (statewide) include $118.3M to backfill revenue shortfalls arising from lower filing fees and criminal assessments caused by the pandemic, $72.2 million to increase funding for trial court operations statewide by 3.7% (to be allocated by the Judicial Council pursuant to the improved formula that is more fair to the Inland Empire), continued funding for self-help services for unrepresented litigants, reduction in fines and fees to reduce the impacts of those charges on low-income individuals, and additional funding for ongoing and deferred maintenance. And, importantly, it allocates $8.3M toward a $2.1B commitment over the next five years for courthouse construction.
Inland Action supports the Governor’s budget proposal for the judiciary in order to provide the needed financial resources so that our courts can serve the justice needs of the Inland Empire.
Support continued funding for public transit and mobility projects aligned with the advancement of interstate high speed rail connecting Metrolink in Rancho Cucamonga to the Victor Valley and alternatives including increased access to the Inland Empire region of Southern California. The Inland Empire is actively focusing on tomorrow’s mobility options for residents, businesses, and the inter-connected transportation system. Alignment of resources, both public and private, can produce incredible results for all. As an example, the San Bernardino County Transportation Authority is working to retrofit the southern portion of the new Arrow Maintenance Facility, located in the City of San Bernardino, to house a new hydrogen storage and fueling station for the future Zero-Emission Multiple Unit rail vehicle. The project is in the development stages and can help move the State of California and the Inland Empire toward a clean transportation future.
Request State support and increased funding for transit connectivity to Ontario International Airport . Considerable advanced planning, design, and development have led to a financially viable transit connection that will result in increased access to Ontario International Airport (ONT). With local control, ONT was one of the fastest growing airports in the years preceding the pandemic and is showing signs of continuing that rapid growth as the pandemic wanes. Increased funding will be needed to help serve the Inland Empire’s largest commercial airport and its customers by continuing that growth trajectory.
Inland Action supports broad-based transportation solutions such as a new zero-emission transit tunnel between the Metrolink station in the City of Rancho Cucamonga and ONT. The San Bernardino County Transportation Authority is working with The Boring Company, founded by Elon Musk, on this unique customer-based subterranean transit system that can shuttle thousands of passengers daily between the existing Metrolink rail system and ONT incorporating emerging zero-emission technologies.
Urge State leaders to engage with the transportation, employment, and supply chain sectors on lasting solutions for short- and long-term systems to sustain the transportation sector and delivery of critical goods and supplies. The need for a cohesive short-term and long-term ‘system of systems’ solution for the dire situation facing our Ports and supply chain has been critical. This has been exacerbated by and through the pandemic, and it is needed now more than ever. Our Ports and supply chain touch every aspect of our international, State, regional, and local economy, as well as our daily lives. Inland Action would like to see State leaders engage with the transportation, employment, and supply chain sectors on lasting solutions for the benefit of current and future generations. A sustainable supply chain is not only possible but attainable if we all work together collaboratively.
Inland Action seeks to promote informed decisions on these complex issues. We seek to understand and also educate through the process. We believe this helps us all create a better tomorrow. However, the disadvantages that the Inland Empire sees and experiences actually do have an impact upon our competitiveness for multiple federal, State, local, and even public-private funding alternatives. Inland Action is poised and prepared to get to work with partners at all levels.
Urge State coordination with Federal Environmental Protection Agency to reset the current trajectory for compliance with Clean Air Act pollution standards and/or provisions for withholding of federal transportation funds for non-compliance. The year 2023 is still the horizon year (coming quickly). Federal highway funds will be withheld if California and others cannot show conformity with the ozone threshold through the current State Implementation Plan (SIP). There is a two-year grace period, so 2025 is the problem year. Time is essential to supporting our direly needed transportation sectors. As a reference, please look at SBCTA’s new Arrow Project in the commuter rail and transit industries at https://www.gosbcta.com/zero-emission-train-slated-for-arrow-service-recognized-by-scag/.