This was a legislative session like no other with the COVID-19 pandemic. A fraction of the usual number of bills were taken up and mostly focused on the crises that hit our state almost all at once – Coronavirus, racial inequality protests, fires, and energy.
It was very clear that the constant was the lack of resources and funding. Thanks to everyone who participated in our digital actions calling on the legislature and the governor to adopt a revenue stream that would help with reopening schools safely and prevent looming cuts. Lawmakers and Gov. Newsom adopted a budget that prevented deep cuts for the current year but unless the HEROES Act or a different federal stimulus and recovery package is enacted, the cuts could come later this year.
During the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 154 billionaires who live in California got over $175 billion richer, and 11 more became billionaires.
We appreciate the courage and leadership of Assemblymember Miguel Santiago and others who introduced AB 1253 which would have imposed additional income taxes on high wage earners.
Assemblymember Rob Bonta, introduced AB 2088 – a first-in-the-nation net worth tax. This proposed wealth tax would have generated an estimated $7.5 billion per year.
Working in partnership with labor partners and a broad coalition we fought hard for this revenue stream. It was truly amazing to see all the engagement and support as well as the response from lawmakers. Unfortunately, they did not increase taxes on the wealthiest Californians and now we face a $20 billion shortfall right off the bat this upcoming year.
Gov. Newsom has not ruled out calling a special session but don’t count on it happening before Nov. 3.
On the flip side, a lot of great work went into passing legislation that will help students, educators, and families in our communities as we continue to live through this pandemic. Below is a list of bills that CTA fought for successfully.
AB 331 Ethnic Studies – Passed legislature, heading to Gov.’s desk
Authored by Assemblymember Jose Medina, AB 331 will ensure that all students have the opportunity to take ethnic studies by making it a California high school graduation requirement, starting in 2024.
AB 3088 Renter Protection – Passed legislature, Gov. signed
Lawmakers passed and Gov. Newsom signed AB 3088 on Aug. 31 prohibiting evictions for unpaid rent as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Protections are in place through Jan. 31, 2021.
SB 1159 Protecting Employees Passed legislature, heading to Gov.’s desk
Sen. Jerry Hill authored SB 1159 that will codify the Executive Order which the governor issued last March to protect “essential employees” by creating a presumption that “essential employees” who contracted COVID-19 were infected on the job and therefore subject to Workers’ Comp. Others who weren’t originally included in the order were added as part of this bill.
SB 820 – Passed legislature, heading to Gov.’s desk
This education trailer bill, SB 820, included a variety of elements clarifying language in the budget trailer bill enacted in July including enrollment growth in ADA hold harmless and clarification of Ed code.
AB 2101 – Passed legislature, heading to Gov.’s desk
To clarify concerns that have come up, AB 2101 ensures that paid administrative leave is included as CalSTRS creditable service.