With summer just around the corner and the house of origin legislative bill deadline officially behind us, the attention of the NextGen team is focused on budget negotiations and our funding priorities. Although we know California is facing a budget deficit, it is important for our team to stay engaged in the process to ensure that our various climate, higher education, food insecurity, and health care program priorities remain intact. In this issue of What’s Next, we will take a look at the recently released Climate 100 Project Report, which analyzes the differences between the Governor’s January Budget Proposal and his May Revisions; overview a new report detailing the impact higher education institutions have on students’ mental health; and discuss a few other hot topics you won’t want to miss! Here’s What’s Next at NextGen:
★ Budget Item Breakdown: With the Governor, the Assembly, and the Senate in the final days of negotiating the 2023-2024 state budget – which must be passed by both houses of the Legislature by June 15th – the NextGen team is busy monitoring budget hearings, tracking funding allocations, and advocating for specific programmatic resources to continue the post-pandemic support for our state’s most vulnerable communities. We’re still doing all we can to secure funding to: implement SB 907, which will improve EBT access at farmers’ markets; increase resources for public transit system operations; restore the cuts made to the Farm to School Program; eliminate state tax subsidies given to oil and gas companies; and provide funding to start the Oki Park Project which will help transform an unused community plot of land into a thriving urban garden and center for environmental education. Keep an eye on our Twitter page for more information and updates on breaking news!
★ Climate 100 May Revise Analysis: Governor Newsom’s recently released May Revision to his January 2023-24 budget proposal preserved more of the state’s historic California Climate Commitment than many stakeholders anticipated — although there were some notable changes and exceptions in the water and renewable energy areas. However, with economic indicators in the year ahead continuing to show high levels of uncertainty, a reasonable amount of skepticism exists as to whether we have seen the last of the cuts and if the state will be able to address the climate crisis with the urgency and intensity it requires. In our Climate 100 analysis, we highlight how California’s Climate Commitment has evolved and explain how California can continue its pursuit of an all-of-government approach to solving the climate crisis. Get a full breakdown of our Climate-focused analysis of the May Revise in our new Climate 100 brief.
★ Student Mental Health Report: A new report from the College Futures Foundation, “Degrees of Distress: How Higher Ed Institutions Hurt and Help Student Mental Health” by Dr. Sam Museus and Dr. Lindsay Pérez Huber discusses their research findings on how college campus policies, practices, and cultures profoundly affect the mental health of college students – particularly for students of color. The report makes clear that mental health challenges are one of the primary factors impacting postsecondary success and we must work with institutions of higher education to ensure they are promoting cultures of wellness and care. We encourage you to learn more about how higher ed institutions can affect students’ mental health in the full report.
Take Action to Support California’s Children and Climate!
SB 394 (Gonzalez) creates safe and healthy learning environments for children in California by requiring the state to create a Master Plan for healthy, sustainable, and climate-resilient schools. Send an email to Governor Gavin Newsom, Senate President pro Tempore Toni Atkins, and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon and ask them to prioritize the health and safety of our children by supporting a $10 million budget request to create this important Statewide Master Plan!
★ Did You Know? We are all currently living through very challenging times, but, we should all strive to be respectful, kind, and show dignity to our friends, neighbors, community, and loved ones. Today, and every day, as the rights of transgender Americans continue to be attacked around the country, and NextGen remains an ally and stands in solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community. For Pride 2023, we want to continue to do our part to help those who may need support – check out the mental health resources and additional information provided by groups including the California LGBTQ Caucus, Equality California, and The Trevor Project!
★ Member Spotlight: NextGen sends a huge thank you to our Senate and Assembly Budget Committee Chairs and Sub Chairs on Public Safety: Senators Nancy Skinner, Maria Elena Durazo, and Assemblymembers Phil Ting and Mia Bonta, for retaining the funding for the Public Defender Pilot Program – this program provides meaningful reentry support to Californians trying to safely reintegrate into society after incarceration. This new pilot program is a huge win for criminal justice reform as it benefits taxpayers by decreasing recidivism, providing financial relief to families, and increasing resources to public defender offices throughout the state!
★ What’s Next: We’re looking ahead to June 15th, when the state budget will be finalized and we can share more details with you. In the meantime, keep a lookout for updates on our website and our Twitter page – be sure to spread the joy and share What’s Next with your network, also!
★ 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.
Thank you for being a part of our journey toward a more equitable California. As we continue to push for progressive policy change, we invite you to make a difference by donating to support our organization. Your contribution will directly impact our efforts to address environmental, social, and economic inequities throughout the state.