NextGen Priorities Include Providing More Affordable Housing, Closing the Digital Divide, Protecting the Environment and Creating a Roadmap to an Equitable Economic Recovery
SACRAMENTO – Today, NextGen Policy praised California Governor Gavin Newsom for making substantial investments in the May Budget Revision that will help working families while protecting the environment and creating a roadmap to an equitable economic recovery for all.
“NextGen is thrilled that the Governor’s May Budget Revision is investing in progressive policies and programs that address inequities in our environmental, racial, social and economic systems,” said Arnold Sowell Jr., Executive Director of NextGen Policy. “With the state’s rare budget windfall, this Governor is positioned to make historic and game-changing investments that will uplift Californians from all backgrounds. Now it’s time for California’s legislative leaders to make funding these equity and justice centered priorities a reality.”
The mission of NextGen Policy (NGP) and NextGen California is to advance justice through legislative advocacy, grassroots partnerships, and democratic civic engagement.
Below are some specifics on NextGen priorities:
Climate and Environmental Justice: Taking urgent action on the climate crisis, ending our dependence on fossil fuels, and fighting for a healthier, more equitable clean energy economy for all Californians.
“This year’s budget presents a once-in-a-generation chance for California to make the transformative investments we need in clean and equitable transportation and climate resilience,” said David Weiskopf, NextGen Senior Policy Advisor. We are gratified to see the Governor prioritizing transportation equity programs and funding to remove the most dangerous polluting vehicles from our roads. This budget also recognizes that climate is not just about cars and solar panels: it’s about safe homes, resilient neighborhoods, and smart infrastructure planning. We urge the legislature to follow the Governor’s lead here, and to view every part of the budget through a climate lens, because every part of the state’s economy is at stake in the climate crisis.
“We applaud the Governor for the $1.3 billion allocation for drinking water and wastewater. We also support the Governor’s $2 billion in proposed water and power debt relief,” said NextGen Deputy Director Adriana Sanchez-Ochoa. “We continue to encourage action to provide ongoing funding for a statewide low-income water rate assistance program. It is imperative that we address the urgent crisis of household water and utility debt due to the pandemic so that there is equitable recovery for all. All Californians deserve the human right to basic utilities like water and power. It is a racial justice and equity issue.”
Digital Divide: Universal broadband connectivity for all.
“With this $7 billion investment to close the digital divide, Governor Newsom is addressing historic inequities and helping to ensure all Californians have internet connectivity that prioritizes open access and affordability;” said Samantha Seng, Legislative Manager and Policy Advisor. The lack of universal connectivity has plagued California long before the COVID-19 pandemic, and this investment will begin to bridge the digital divide for communities that have been left behind. With this meaningful investment in broadband infrastructure, California has the opportunity to achieve a full recovery with equity, accessibility and affordability at the center.
Housing: Protecting the right to fair, affordable, and equitable housing for all people – as every person deserves the right to shelter no matter their economic status.
“We are grateful to Governor Newsom for allocating significant resources to build affordable housing and combat homelessness to address the inequities that impact the most vulnerable Californians,” said NextGen Special Projects Director Stacey Smith. “Specifically, the addition of a $25 million program to address the needs of high-risk, formerly homeless, and aging veterans living in permanent supportive housing (PSH) will help keep these veterans stably-housed and provide supportive care. This program will increase housing security, access to healthcare, reduce dependence on emergency services, and provide a cost-effective framework to help care for our most at-risk veterans who have sacrificed so much for this country.”
Healthcare: Fighting for every person who calls California home to have access to quality, equitable, and affordable healthcare. Ensuring that our healthcare system cares for the whole person – which means their physical and mental well-being.
“COVID-19 has brought to light the systemic inequities that have plagued CA for decades in providing necessary, accessible, affordable, and quality healthcare to its residents,” said Elena Santamaria, NextGen Policy Advisor. “The Governor has made efforts to address these inequities by making investments in providing additional subsidies for health care coverage, creating the Office of Health Care Affordability and expanding health care access to undocumented immigrants. However, more must be done to address systemic racism within the healthcare delivery system as well as across all agencies in which the state engages with people who call California home. Racism is a public health crisis and continues to stifle economic and social mobility for an equitable recovery for all. The Administration should put a down payment on racial equity by funding SB 17 to create the Office of Racial Equity which will strategically and systematically help guide the state to make meaningful reforms to address racial equity.”
Food Insecurity (Healthy School Meals): Fighting to ensure that every Californian has access to healthy, nutritious food by focusing on the issues of student hunger, support for food banks, eliminating food deserts and providing healthy school meals.
We applaud the Governor’s prioritization of combating the hunger crisis impacting our state, which has only been exacerbated by the ongoing pandemic, and providing investments to help our state move towards universal free school meals for all students,” said Tiffany Germain, NextGen Research & Policy Advisor. While food insecurity is at its lowest point in California since the pandemic began, hunger levels are still more than double pre-COVID levels with food banks still reporting record levels of need. All Californians should have equitable access to the resources they need to live healthy, productive lives and these new critical investments will help families across the state put food on the table for their families and for schools to provide more healthy, freshly prepared meals.