5 Things California: Budget deadline, Early Bird registration, International perspective on COVID
History is happening fast right now. When things happen fast, they can break. So, take care to protect the things that matter. Elections come and go. Family and friendships last. Be intentional about focusing on the things that last while we’re all caught up in the election.
And thanks for reading our stuff…
With help from Emily Boerger
1. Health bills signed & vetoed
Wednesday marked the final day for Gov. Newsom to sign or veto legislation passed during California’s 2020 legislative session. Despite hiccups in the legislative process due to COVID-19, Newsom was still able to sign significant health-related bills into law.
Noteworthy bills include legislation strengthening protections for LGBTQ+ Californians, a bill allowing some nurse practitioners to practice independently, legislation allowing the state to contract with drug manufacturers to produce or distribute generic prescription drugs, and a series of behavioral health bills. Those vetoed include this bill which would have established the Office to End Homelessness, and another that would have created a new disaster food assistance program.
2. Oct. 15’s budget deadline
When Newsom signed the 2020 Budget Act in June, state leaders were hopeful the federal government would come through with additional aid. Specifically, California’s final budget included $11.1 billion in reductions and deferrals that would be restored if the federal government provided at least $14 billion in funding by October 15th.
With just over a week until that deadline hits, it appears no federal relief is on its way. So, what won’t be restored? The list includes $1.89 billion for state employee compensation and nearly $1 billion for higher education. Assembly Budget Chair Phil Ting told Politico last week: “Fourteen billion is quite a lot — it’s really only the federal government that can assist us,” he said. “Until we hit that deadline, I’m still hopeful.”
3. An international conversation on COVID
Making the shift to all virtual conferences at State of Reform has certainly introduced new challenges, but it has also revealed new opportunities. Last week, I had the opportunity to host an international conversation on the experience of COVID that brought together leaders from London, Rome, and Nairobi for a virtual discussion. It was a conversation that elevated our commonalities across both demography and geography. So, I thought I’d share it with you in this otherwise divisive time.
The conversation touched on the human experience of COVID in different parts of the globe – ranging from COVID testing in schools to mask-shaming to government leadership. In Italy, kids get tested once a week in schools with a 10-minute turnaround. In Somalia, no one wears masks because “everyone thinks they lost their sense of taste in the spring,” implying they’ve since recovered from COVID.
4. Early Bird registration open!
Registration is now open for the 2020 Southern California State of Reform Virtual Health Policy Conference coming up on December 8th. The cost of hosting the event is likely to be more expensive in the virtual space, if you can believe that. But we’ve lowered the registration price significantly, particularly for the Early Bird rate.
A big thank you to our Convening Panel who got together last week to talk through the issues and topics that will be teed up for discussion at the event. We’ll release our Topical Agenda in a few weeks’ time, so if you have any topics, speakers, or content ideas, we would love to hear them. And, if you already know that you want to join us on December 8th, be sure to take advantage of the discounted price and register today!
5. New UC Berkeley poll results
A new UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll reveals Californians are less concerned about the health threat posed by COVID-19 than they were two months ago. The survey, which polled over 7,000 registered voters in California in mid-September, also reveals opinions related to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s job performance, the presidential election, and ballot propositions.
When asked about the most important issues facing California, 27% of voters said homelessness, followed by housing costs (23%), jobs and the economy (21%), climate change (17%), wildfires (17%), and then COVID-19 (16%). Of note, 82% report they are worried many Americans won’t respect the outcome of the presidential election and 42% say they don’t feel the election will likely be held in a fair and open way.