Assemblymember Adam C. Gray (D-Merced) applauded the passage today of the final 2021 State Budget revision for the year. “Despite the challenges created by COVID-19, this budget funds a number of critically important priorities for the San Joaquin Valley,” said Assemblymember Gray.
Agriculture and Drought
“The halls of the State Capitol continue to be a hostile place for agriculture. A report from Cal Poly SLO, which found that regulatory costs paid by Valley farmers more than doubled in six years, did little to slow the zealous special interests that see this drought as an opportunity to gut water rights and the Valley’s economic engine. Water storage funding, which would make water more sustainable for human and environmental uses, continues to be off the table. Meanwhile, the State Water Board has doubled down on its treatment of irrigation water as ‘waste and unreasonable use.’ I strongly support our irrigation districts who have sued the state to stop the Board’s illegal water and power grab.” “This game of chicken has to come to an end. Farmers are not the enemy of the environment, and this drought was not caused by almonds. Real solutions need to prevail over opposition that is founded in ideology rather than public policy. The voters already told us they want to see nearly $3 billion of new water storage built when they approved Prop 1 in 2014. They didn’t approve the funds only to have the State sit on its hands.” SB 170 is the final bill that amends the 2021 State Budget and reflects an agreement between the Legislature and the Administration reached in September on a number of budget issues that were unresolved in the July budget agreement. The 2021 Budget Act, AB 128 (Ting, Chapter 21, Statues of 2021) has previously been amended by AB 161 (Ting, Chapter 43, Statues of 2021), SB 129 (Skinner, Chapter 69, Statues of 2021) and AB 164(Ting, Chapter 164, Statues of 2021).
$60 Million for San Joaquin Valley Groundwater Recharge and Storage
“I am extremely frustrated that this budget contains no real funding to build new reservoirs or raise our existing dams. The State’s refusal to do the obvious things – build more dams – is a major reason why we are in this drought to begin with. However, we were able to secure $60 million for floodplain restoration projects that will act as groundwater recharge sites and water banks. Not only will these projects combat groundwater overdraft and subsidence, but they will also improve the drinking water quality in disadvantaged communities. The funding is sufficient to build at least one project on every major river that flows through the San Joaquin Valley. These funds are also dedicated to the Valley and cannot be siphoned off to other areas as we have seen done under the Prop 1 Water Bond. While new dams are needed, these projects will both protect against flooding and add thousands of new acre-feet of water storage underground.”
UC Merced Center of Analytic Political Engagement (CAPE)
“I fought this year to create a permanent endowment for a public policy center at UC Merced to engage students who are passionate about making the Valley a better place to live and raise a family. By exposing students to the institutions and mechanisms that make our government work, I hope UC Merced can collaborate with the Maddy Institute at Fresno State to shape the next generation of advocates for the Valley.”
Medi-Cal Coverage of Continuous Glucose Monitors
“The State will finally give Medi-Cal patients with diabetes access to continuous glucose monitors (CGMs). CGMs are the standard of care for every other insured group in the State, but Medi-Cal patients were singled out to receive lesser care as a shortsighted cost-cutting mechanism. That has resulted in worse health outcomes and increased hospitalizations for our most vulnerable communities. Nearly 50 percent of the people I represent in the State Assembly receive health insurance through Medi-Cal, and as someone with diabetes in my family, this inequity was personal for me. This fight took five years and multiple bill vetoes to achieve, but starting next year, Medi-Cal is no longer allowed to treat poor and vulnerable people as second class citizens.”