California’s high cost of living, crumbling infrastructure, rising crime and constant threat of natural disasters always present challenges. The COVID-19 pandemic has made matters worse by stressing ICU capacity, causing tragic loss of life, damaging our economy and robbing many students of a year’s education.
During the upcoming budget discussions, I am urging the Governor to follow a path relying on science to best respond to the pandemic. More than 2.6 million people lost their jobs between March and May 2020, Millions saw their wages cut, hundreds of businesses permanently closed. This year, we must provide incentives and regulatory flexibility to help small businesses get back on their feet and their employees back to work.
A safe return to the classroom can be accomplished by applying strategies based on science rather than fear. Students, denied classroom teaching are experiencing significant learning loss and negative impacts to their social and emotional well-being. Getting kids back to school will also help get their parents back to work.
The healthcare workforce must be expanded. Telehealth should be more commonplace, we need to shore up testing capacity, address mental health and increasing incidents of substance abuse. And state agencies like the EDD, which has failed millions of unemployed California workers, the DMV and others must be reformed.
With over four million acres burned in 2020, wildfires must remain a priority. Infrastructure including crumbling highways, insufficient water storage facilities, energy production and distribution must all be addressed. With homicides and other crime rates increasing, we need to provide law enforcement agencies and courts with necessary resources to protect all Californians.
On January 5th, I sent a letter about these issues and more to Governor Newsom. As Assembly Republican Leader, I remain eager to find commonsense, bipartisan solutions to put California back on track during this stressful time.