The last several weeks have been a very eventful time in the California Legislature with bill hearings and final budget negotiations dominating the landscape right before the Summer Recess is set to begin. Concurrently, the NextGen team has been hard at work engaging with legislative members, their staff, key executive branch decision makers, and coalition partners advocating for our policy and budget priorities. Our team is also dissecting the adjustments made to the final 2023-2024 State Budget, which just passed the Legislature this week and we are still waiting on the Governor’s signature to make it final – more information on that coming in our next issue.
We’ve been keeping our eyes on the U.S. Supreme Court and their recent rulings on several major cases which will seriously impact student borrowers, students applying for college, and voting rights across our nation. Additionally, we’re giving a big shoutout and our warm congratulations to the new California Assembly Speaker Robert Rivas – we look forward to working with him and his team to help advance justice and equity in our state. We also want to express our sincere appreciation to outgoing Speaker Anthony Rendon for his leadership and partnership during his tenure. Given the eventful month ahead – and the upcoming holiday weekend – we’re keeping this issue of What’s Next fairly brief with a fuller edition in another week or so.
Please keep a lookout for much more detailed updates in the weeks ahead but for now, enjoy a shallow dive into What’s Next at NextGen:
★ Digital Equity WINS Across the U.S.: We were super excited to see President Biden and Vice President Harris announce their plan for over $40 billion in funding to states for high-speed internet infrastructure! Early estimates predict this level of investment will create upwards of 150,000 jobs across the country for skilled workers to lay fiber optic cable, build out networks, and deploy new technologies. Given that digital access, digital equity, and digital inclusion are primary areas of focus for NextGen, our team is thrilled by the President’s leadership and efforts to close the digital divide for all Americans and we look forward to seeing the positive benefits these investments will have on the lives of millions of Californians who currently lack access to affordable, reliable, high-speed internet.
★ NextGen Responds to California Climate Investments: NextGen’s Climate Policy Fellow Jamie Pew recently commented on the package of climate investments in the two-party California State Budget deal: “NextGen thanks California’s leadership for securing a state budget deal that maintains 95% of last year’s historic $54 billion climate commitment and provides a lifeline to our essential transit systems, even amidst a challenging revenue picture. This budget agreement ensures that the state will hardly break its stride in the pursuit of a climate-ready future.” Clearly, we are very concerned about the reduced levels of investment for environmental justice programs as well as why the state continues to subsidize the oil and gas industry but, all in all, given the state’s stark fiscal outlook, the budget’s level of climate investment keeps moving us forward in the fight against climate change.
★ Power to the Voters! NextGen in OC Register: Recently in the Orange County Register, NextGen’s Advisor Amy Hamblin discussed the urgent need for automatic voter registration in California: “Most advanced democracies put the burden on the government to make sure eligible individuals are registered to vote. There’s no reason voter registration should be an impediment to someone exercising their right to vote.”
Our next edition of What’s Next in the coming weeks will provide a more detailed picture of the state budget as well as update you on the status of our bill priorities. Wishing you a Happy Independence Day! 🇺🇲
★ Our Mission: NextGen Policy fights for progressive policy change to address environmental, social, racial, and economic inequities through justice-centered legislative advocacy, grassroots partnerships, and democratic civic engagement.