One of my motivations for serving in the Assembly was to fight for our fair share of resources in Sacramento — and this year our community will finally get the resources we’ve been missing for too long. I am especially excited that our state budget includes over $20 million in critical infrastructure investments to protect our water, support our schools and kids, a clean environment, and brings solutions to homelessness and those struggling in today’s economy.
Just last week, we passed and the governor signed an on-time 2023-24 budget. I’m thrilled that despite our budget shortfall, our budget has significantly grown, and we have a larger budget than pre-pandemic, and we still made gains all without raising taxes, protecting a $37 billion rainy day reserve fund, and making historic investments in education, child care and health care.
I’m so proud that, pending the governor’s signature of budget amendments, our office was able to deliver these $20 million in investments back here at home, one of the largest investments ever in our district. This money will go to projects related to infrastructure for school safety, emergency preparedness, mental health, and caring for our seniors. Significantly, this is one of the largest awards of district resources to any Assembly member in the state. The projects that we fought to get an investment from these funds right here in the Santa Clarita Valley include:
City of Santa Clarita: Funds for a mobile command unit, which will enhance the city’s emergency response and communications, ensuring our community is better prepared for fires, earthquakes, floods and any natural disaster that comes to our community.
SCV Water Agency: Funding for an arundo removal and management program. The arundo are an invasive bamboo-like bush that require massive amounts of water, and when combined the arundo consumes as much water in the year as the city of Santa Clarita. This investment will support integrating planning and implementation efforts to address local watershed and regional water management objectives.
Bridge to Home: Funds will provide furniture supplies needed for Bridge to Home to complete its new eight family units and complete its new client service center, the first interim housing in Santa Clarita. As the co-founder of an organization advocating for solutions to homelessness, I’m thrilled we can support unhoused families.
Child & Family Center: Funds will be used to upgrade critical infrastructure and safety measures needed in order to help keep our community safe through the work CFC provides through quality care and services for those in need of mental health, substance use treatment and domestic violence prevention services.
Newhall School District: Funding to help keep our kids safe while at school by upgrading things like security cameras, the public address system and classroom safety features. While we know that standing up to the gun lobby and passing more common-sense gun safety measures is the real answer to eliminating gun violence at school, efforts like this provide resources to keep our kids safe in the meantime.
William S. Hart Union High School District: Funds ensuring the district is meeting the mental health and wellness needs of students at all school sites by replacing all current PA systems, which are used for emergency communications. The mental health of students is more important than ever as we’ve come out of the pandemic but our kids are still suffering the consequences.
SCV Senior Center: Funds would be used to bolster infrastructure that allows the Senior Center to meet increased demands and needs of our seniors facing food insecurity. We must ensure the growing number of low-income and homebound seniors get the services they deserve. Additional cold storage on site, new hot/cold delivery vehicles, and additional Handy Worker trucks will support the additional seniors requesting meals and handy worker assistance.
SRD – Straightening Reins: Funds will be used on infrastructure that allows them to reallocate resources and invest money back into providing quality mental health services. This will be done by upgrading facilities and adding solar panels so that their on-site programs can expand hours of services during inclement weather, from extreme heat to rain.
SCV Boys & Girls Club: Funds for refurbishing aging facilities that will allow them to better provide a safe, welcoming and engaging environment our children and teens deserve.
College of the Canyons: Funds will go to a virtual simulated patient care and emergency room lab infrastructure that will enhance student learning and increase the number of students trained in both allied health care (including nursing) and emergency medical programs.
Castaic Union School District: Funds will be used to provide a safe and healthy environment for children to play at all grade-level locations on the campus by installing shade structures over the playgrounds at Castaic Elementary.
In addition to these incredible district investments , I am also proud that the budget will include $82.5 million to implement the intent of our bill, the Healthcare Affordability Fund (Assembly Bill 1208), to cover out-of-pocket costs for Covered California enrollees stuck in the middle, paying too much out of pocket for health insurance they can’t afford to use. Making health care accessible and affordable for all families is crucial in our effort to make sure people have the health care they need, when they need it — and never go bankrupt paying doctor bills, and this bill goes a long way to ensuring that’s a reality.
There’s a common saying in Sacramento: A budget is a statement of values. Meaning, we show what we as lawmakers truly value most by the things we decide to invest in with our budget. The 2023-24 budget truly is a reflection of our values. And while there is much more we must do, making some of these historic and critical investments in our top priorities, without spending down our rainy day fund or raising taxes, is a huge accomplishment and I was proud to be a part of our work as a state to support our community and all Californians.
Pilar Schiavo, D-Chatsworth, represents the 40th Assembly District, which includes most of the Santa Clarita Valley in addition to the northwest San Fernando Valley. “Democratic Voices” appears Tuesdays and rotates among local Democrats.