California Builders Alliance Capitol Update
CBA SITS DOWN WITH APPROPRIATION CHAIRS
$100 BILLION PROPOSAL
Governor Newsom announced the CA Comeback Plan, $100 billion in combined state budget surplus and federal funds for additional COVID-19 relief. The proposal would send $600 stimulus checks to two-thirds of Californians (incomes under $75K) an extra $600 for low-income undocumented taxpayers and an additional $500 to families with kids. If approved by the Legislature, the plan would triple the size of the Golden State Stimulus package Newsom signed into law in February. Newsom’s office is promoting it as “the biggest state tax rebate in American history,” part of a $100 billion economic recovery package to address “five of the state’s most stubborn challenges.”
CAL/OSHA POSTS COVID REVISIONS
Long-awaited changes to the emergency temporary standard (“ETS”) are now published and will likely be voted on May 20. The suggested revisions would on Aug. 1 lift a mandate requiring most workers to maintain six feet of distance at all times. They would also permit fully vaccinated workers without COVID symptoms to forgo masks outdoors as well as indoors, as long as everyone else in the room is also fully vaccinated and doesn’t have symptoms. But it also appears the changes could come even sooner and be more widespread. Gov. Gavin Newsom told Fox LA’s Elex Michaelson on Tuesday that he envisions eliminating California’s mask mandate by June 15, the state’s target date for a full reopening.
CBA DISCUSSES CTE WITH ASSEMBLY MEMBER MCCARTY
We are working with Assembly Member McCarty on using the state’s budget surplus to make substantial investments in career technical education programs that serve as a critical pipeline of workforce to the building industry.
We sat down for a casual conversation with Assembly Member Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento) who serves as Chair of the Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Education Finance, which oversees the largest component of California’s multi-billion-dollar budget. We are working with Assembly Member McCarty on using the state’s budget surplus to make substantial investments in career technical education programs that serve as a critical pipeline of workforce to the building industry.
BUSINESS ROUNDTABLE: FEDERAL AID SHOULD PAY DOWN UI FUND DEBT
California Business Roundtable is calling on the Governor and Legislature to focus on the state’s $20 billion Unemployment Insurance (UI) Fund debt with money from the U.S. Treasury. The UI debt is growing approximately $1.2 billion per month. This debt could result in higher employment taxes if unaddressed. “Businesses did not cause this recession and should not bear the burden of paying off this debt” says CBRT President Rob Lapsley. Read more.
POPULATION FALLS FOR FIRST TIME IN HISTORY
California’s population shrank in 2020 for the first time in recorded history, a development sure to drive narratives about the Golden State’s decline as it also grapples with the fallout of losing a seat in the House of Representatives for the first time in history. Figures released Friday by the state Department of Finance show that California’s population dropped by more than 182,000 people last year, a change officials attribute to more than 51,000 COVID-19 deaths and declines in immigration amid the coronavirus lockdowns and the restrictive policies of former President Donald Trump.
Still, a dramatic reversal is unlikely. Pre-pandemic, California was already facing its slowest population growth in more than a century, with more people moving out than moving in and declining birth rates. Lower- and middle-income residents are leaving California or moving to more affordable areas within it as home prices hit record highs, a trend reflected in the new data: San Francisco and Los Angeles’ population dropped, while the Central Valley’s and Inland Empire’s grew.
California is bone-dry and getting drier. Here’s a look at some eye-popping statistics compiled in the Sacramento Bee:
- 93% of the state is in severe, extreme or exceptional drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. That’s up from 66% just last month.
- The Sierra Nevada snowpack, which can provide up to 60% of the state’s water, is at 10% of its average level for this time of year.
- Every rice farmer in the Sacramento Valley — which produces 97% of the state’s rice crop — is facing a minimum 25% water reduction after the federal government last week halted already reduced shipments.
AG BONTA UPDATE
Attorney General Rob Bonta announced Tuesday the creation of a new Racial Justice Bureau within the Department of Justice that will, among other things, develop regional strategies for combating hate crimes, address police bias and assist with a newly formed task force studying reparations for Black Californians. The state is hiring six new attorneys and a deputy attorney general to staff the bureau.
On Monday, Bonta launched a grant program aimed at helping local law enforcement agencies process backlogged rape kits and urged Facebook not to develop a version of Instagram for kids under 13. He also distinguished himself from his predecessor, Xavier Becerra, by releasing gun violence data and pledging to accelerate the release of police use-of-force and misconduct records — both of which Becerra was loath to do.
Three years after California launched its first online-only community college in an attempt to reach students left out by traditional higher education, only 12 of its 904 students have graduated and Calbright College’s executive team still hasn’t developed a detailed spending plan, according to a scathing report Tuesday from the state auditor. The auditor recommended that lawmakers eliminate Calbright altogether if it can’t make necessary reforms by 2022 — a suggestion that came a week after the state Assembly voted unanimously to defund the college by 2023.
– Damon R. Conklin
California Builders Alliance is one of the state’s largest trade associations representing public works, civil and commercial construction companies, and development.