At the January 11, 2021 general meeting of the DCCSC, San Francisco Assemblymember Phil Ting addressed membership, bringing them up to date on the state budget process, and economic recovery.
Assemblymember Ting is Chair of the Assembly Budget Committee after having served as Chair of the Assembly Committee on Revenue and Taxation, and previously served as San Francisco’s Assessor-Recorder. This is his 6th state budget.
Ting noted that just a year ago, in January 2020, the state was anticipating a surplus of a few billion dollars. Then Covid-19 hit, and the state suddenly faced a $54 Billion deficit. The legislature was still tasked with balancing the budget, a state requirement, at a time “when people needed government the most.” They were able to defer $12 billion to schools, make some cuts in higher education and the court system, while increasing spending on homelessness, healthcare, and social safety nets.
Ting explained that nearly 70% of state revenues are dependent on the wealthiest Californians—those making $500,000 or more a year. Despite the economic downturn and loss of jobs due to Covid-19, the wealthiest Californians continued to thrive, with the state receiving $19 billion more than anticipated in revenues. Ting said that additional money may allow the state to allocate more to small businesses, towards Earned Income Tax Credits benefitting families, towards local Covid responses, education, and protecting against evictions. He said the focus of Democrats in the state legislature is on trying to help the most vulnerable Californians, providing enough resources to stabilize them financially, and allow them to stay home.
As Chair of the State Budget Committee, Ting said it was “a big honor” during a crisis to be able to steer spending toward reinvesting in core democratic principles like universal healthcare, education, environmental protections, and to help defeat the pandemic. “Big institutions have reserves,” he noted, “struggling people don’t.”
Former Assembly District 1 Candidate Elizabeth Betancourt made a pitch for less money towards forest safety research, saying there is already a “strong consensus on how to manage for fire safety,” and advocated instead toward support of programs with proven effectiveness. Ting agreed to look closely at the issue, and asked her to send him relevant data.
Ting did suggest that job growth in Shasta County might spur more trained workers to relocate here, and acknowledged that having a UC or CSU satellite campus in Redding would be “a great idea.”
Among his accomplishments, Ting authored legislation that allowed an expansion of ADU (Accessory Dwelling Units), which one of the DCCSC members praised him for in the chat.