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Thursday, June 13, 2019

ASSEMBLYMEMBER ADAM C. GRAY
21ST ASSEMBLY DISTRICT
For Immediate Release: June 13, 2019
Contact: Adam Capper
Phone: (916) 319-2021

 

Gray Releases Statement on the Passage of 2019-20 State Budget

(Sacramento) – Assemblymember Adam C. Gray (D-Merced) praised the passage of the 2019-20 California State Budget and highlighted a number of investments vital to the success of working families in the San Joaquin Valley.

“The budget is always a product of compromise,” said Gray. “This year, we got a lot more right than wrong with investments in our schools, health care, and efforts to combat homelessness. There are still some loose ends and details to be worked out in trailer bills, but this budget shows that we are asking the right questions. Now we just need to find the right answers.”

Healthy Savings Account

“This budget sets aside more than $19 billion dollars in reserves to prepare the state for the next recession,” said Gray. “In the past, we had a habit of spending every penny during good times, only to turn around and make painful cuts during bad times. Our savings account is healthy enough to blunt the effects of a mild recession, but we must remain fiscally prudent.”

San Joaquin Valley Medical School

“The budget authorizes the University of California to issue bonds to fund the construction of the San Joaquin Valley medical school,” said Gray. “Importantly, it puts the state’s commitment to funding the medical school into law. More detail will follow as we advance additional trailer bills in the coming weeks.”

Bay-Delta Plan Agreements

“The budget makes $70 million available for projects to support voluntary agreements with the state on Bay-Delta Plan flows,” said Gray. “Our irrigation districts continue to seek reasonable and fair terms which fully recognize the impacts any plan will have on our local economy and communities. Under the prior administration, trust was difficult to come by. It has taken many months, but I am cautiously optimistic about the direction we are headed.”

State Fair Funding

“The Great Recession forced significant cuts to state spending, and one of those casualties was the state’s historic funding commitment to California fairs,” said Gray. “That is why I authored AB 1499 to restore a portion of that funding through the dedication of sales tax revenues generated at the fairs themselves. That bill was signed into law, and this year the fairs will receive more than $20 million from the state to upgrade aging infrastructure and support operations.”

Los Banos Fire Station

“The west side has a longstanding need for additional public safety infrastructure,” said Gray. “With an increasingly intense fire season and significant population growth in Los Banos and surrounding communities, the need for additional fire facilities is clear. Working with Supervisor Silveira, Mayor Villalta, and Mayor Nagy, we were able to secure $5 million in the budget to support the construction of a multipurpose fire station, emergency operations center, and regional training facility in Los Banos. This facility will help to improve response times in the city and better integrate local and regional emergency services to assist neighboring counties and react to statewide disasters.”

Merced College Agriculture Technology Building

“As announced earlier this year, the budget fulfills the promise of funding the construction of a new agriculture technology building at Merced College,” said Gray. “Governor Newsom toured Merced College last year and included funding for the building in his original budget proposal. Today I am happy to say the Governor came through for us.”

Modesto Junior College VOLT Institute

“Building on the state’s investment last year, the budget includes an additional $1 million for the VOLT Institute and Modesto Junior College to gives students the training they need to take on highly skilled manufacturing jobs at local employers like Gallo Winery, Del Monte Foods, and Crystal Creamery,” said Gray. “The push to send every kid to a four-year university has created a lack of qualified blue-collar workers at a time when they are in high demand. These are good-paying jobs you can raise a family on without racking up thousands of dollars in student debt.”

Friday, June 7, 2019

Two long-vexing problems confronting our Valley — not enough doctors, and not enough clean drinking water — could be addressed by innovative legislation that we urge Sacramento legislators to embrace by Friday’s budget deadline.

Although the Valley is a great place to raise families, we have trouble luring medical professionals. Did you know the Bay Area enjoys 411 doctors for every 100,000 people, while the San Joaquin Valley struggles with only 157? The statewide average, by the way, is 237.

Friday, June 7, 2019

When California embarked on its quest to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases as a global model to stave off climate change, its first target was the state’s electric power industry.

A series of ever-tightening decrees required utilities to shift from coal, natural gas and other carbon-based sources to a “renewable portfolio,” eventually reaching 100% non-carbon sources by mid-century.

The acceptable alternatives were specified in law, dominated by windmills, solar panels and geothermal wells. But for purely political reasons, the list omitted two power sources that are both free of greenhouse gases and renewable: large hydroelectric dams and nuclear plants.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Modesto and Turlock made it onto the pages of the San Francisco Chronicle and the Los Angeles Times a few days ago, but not for reasons we might hope.

They’re paying attention to legislation in Sacramento that would make a rule addressing climate change a little more fair for us, meaning customers of the Modesto and Turlock irrigation districts. That asinine rule already has cost everyone buying electricity or farm water from either utility tens of millions of dollars.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

ASSEMBLYMEMBER ADAM C. GRAY
21ST ASSEMBLY DISTRICT
For Immediate Release: June 5, 2019
Contact: Adam Capper
Phone: (916) 319-2021

                            

Assemblymember Gray Honors Merced County Spring Fair Heritage Foundation as Nonprofit of the Year

Sacramento – Assemblymember Adam Gray (D-Merced) honored the Merced County Spring Fair Heritage Foundation at the State Capitol as the 2019 California Nonprofit of the Year for the 21st Assembly District. Board Members Supervisor Scott Silveira, Paul Parreira, Pat Gallichio, Cannon Michael, and Natasha Crivelli traveled to Sacramento to be honored as part of the 2019 California Nonprofits Day.

“The Heritage Foundation’s commitment to our community and local farming families is remarkable,” said Gray. “The generosity and dedication of the board has been instrumental in the continued success of the fair.”

The Heritage Foundation is committed to preserving and enriching the heritage of Merced County by continuing to develop the Merced County Spring Fair into a premier destination.  Since its inception in 2011, the Heritage Foundation has awarded over $200,000 in scholarships to approximately 175 students. The Foundation has successfully secured over $1.8 million in donations. 

“The Heritage Foundation is an incredible resource for local 4-H and FFA programs,” continued Gray. “We have them to thank for many local agricultural education opportunities and improvements to fair facilities.”

The third annual California Nonprofits Day was marked by a celebration luncheon at the State Capitol. According to CalNonprofits, the nonprofit sector is the 4th largest industry in the state, employing nearly one million people. Each year, California nonprofits generate over $200 billion in revenue and bring in $40 billion in revenue from outside of California. The unpaid labor contributed by volunteers at nonprofits is equivalent to 450,000 full-time jobs every year.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

ASSEMBLYMEMBER ADAM C. GRAY
21ST ASSEMBLY DISTRICT
For Immediate Release: May 30, 2019
Contact: Adam Capper
Phone: (916) 319-2021

 

Assemblymember Gray Proposes to Fund Clean Drinking Water, UC Medical Schools by Closing Gambling Tax Loophole

 

SACRAMENTO – Today, Assemblymember Adam C. Gray (D-Merced) announced the Inland California Healthy Communities Act, which creates a sustainable funding source for clean drinking water, establishes a new University of California medical school in the San Joaquin Valley, and directs additional funds to the UC Riverside School of Medicine, all while allocating millions of dollars for public education.

“The San Joaquin Valley and Inland Empire do not receive the same level of attention and support as California’s urban centers and coastal communities,” said Gray. “Together, these regions represent a population on par with the state of New Jersey, yet our issues are often pushed to the bottom of the priority list. The Inland California Health Communities Act puts these communities first by addressing two historic inequities – the lack of access to clean drinking water and the worsening physician shortage.”

Gray’s proposal is funded by closing a tax loophole which allows gamblers to deduct losing bets on their state income taxes. The loophole was created by a federal tax law to which California currently conforms. Gray’s proposal would disallow the deduction on state incomes taxes, but gamblers would retain the federal deduction. The loophole costs the state more than $300 million per year, yet benefits fewer than 150,000 people, primarily millionaires and billionaires.

“This is a $300 million sin subsidy for the rich,” said Gray. “If Congress wants to pay to subsidize gamblers that’s their business, but we have families in California who cannot safely drink the water in their homes or get in to see a doctor. This proposal gives us a choice. Instead of taxing families, let’s end the gambling subsidy, clean up contaminated drinking water, and train more doctors in the communities that need them most.”

Gray is proposing to provide more than $100 million in new funding for public education and dedicate a minimum of $115 million annually to fund drinking water improvements for the one million Californians who are exposed to unsafe drinking water each year.

“Thousands of families throughout California are forced to buy bottled water, because they cannot safely drink the water in their own homes,” said Gray. “They are essentially forced to pay two water bills. It’s another example of just how expensive it is to be poor.”

During his final term in office, Governor Brown proposed a new tax on water connections to fund clean drinking water, but the State Legislature ultimately rejected his proposal. Governor Newsom has made health care and clean drinking water priorities of his administration since day one. Before he took office, Governor Newsom visited UC Merced and the UCSF-Fresno medical center. On his cabinet’s first day of work, the Governor put his staff on a bus to Stanislaus County to speak with residents who cannot drink the water in their homes. The Governor has repeatedly pointed out the hypocrisy of Valley residents paying higher water bills than people living in Beverley Hills.

“Governor Newsom has gone out of his way to make inland California a priority,” said Gray. “I am confident we have a strong ally on these issues.”

In addition to clean drinking water, Gray’s plan calls for an expanded budget for the UC Riverside School of Medicine and the establishment of a new UCSF medical school branch campus in the San Joaquin Valley. Last year, Governor Brown signed Gray’s Assembly Bill 2202 into law, which established an endowment fund for a San Joaquin Valley medical school and enshrined a partnership between UCSF, UC Merced, and the UCSF-Fresno regional medical center into law.

“We have dreamed of establishing a medical school in the San Joaquin Valley for more than twenty years,” continued Gray. “As one of the fastest growing regions of the state, we must address our long-standing doctor shortage before things get even worse. By recruiting future doctors from our own communities, and educating them locally, they are more likely to stay close to home and practice medicine where we need them most. This medical school will focus on improving access to care region-wide by keeping our homegrown talent local using a proven model that is already making a difference in the Inland Empire.”

Gray is seeking inclusion of the Inland California Healthy Communities Act in the State Budget.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

ASSEMBLYMEMBER ADAM C. GRAY
21ST ASSEMBLY DISTRICT
For Immediate Release: May 9, 2019
Contact: Adam Capper
Phone: (916) 319-2021

 

Assemblymembers Adam Gray and Eduardo Garcia Issue Statement Following Flood Management and Emergency Preparedness Hearing

(Sacramento) – Assemblymember Gray (D-Merced), Chair of the Committee on Governmental Organization, and Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia (D-Coachella) today held a joint informational hearing on flood management and emergency preparedness.

During the hearing, members of the committees received testimony regarding California’s inland flood control system and emergency preparedness from the Legislative Analyst’s Office, Department of Water Resources, California Office of Emergency Services, Central Valley Flood Protection Board, Central Valley Flood Control Association, Reclamation District 108, and the Sacramento County Office of Emergency Services.

California’s flood control system is complex and local, federal and state agencies have developed a variety of physical structures to regulate flood flows. Since 1992, every county in California has been declared a federal disaster area at least once for a flooding event. More than 7.3 million people and structures valued at nearly $600 billion statewide are located in an area with a 1-in-500 probability of flooding. In the Central Valley alone, nearly 1-in-3 residents and crops worth nearly $6 billion are located in flood-prone areas.

The Department of Water Resources provided an overview of actions they are taking to reduce the residual flood risk, previous flood management investments and the current reservoir conditions and snowmelt forecast California’s river basins. 

In discussing the forecasts for runoff, Chairman Gray noted “the symbiotic relationship between water storage and flood risk requires policymakers to take a more collaborative approach in answering California water question. For far too long, California has not had a real water plan. California’s aging water infrastructure as paid the price.”

Chairman Garcia stated, “Today’s hearing was an opportunity to learn more about the coordination between our local, state, and federal flood management teams and to ensure emergency managers and first responders are receiving the information they need to keep our communities safe.”

Chairman Gray added, “We cannot afford to be caught flatfooted. We need to ensure our emergency plans are up-to-date and fully consider the consequences flooding has on lifeline systems such as fuel, power, communications, drinking water, and transportation.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

ASSEMBLYMEMBER ADAM C. GRAY
21ST ASSEMBLY DISTRICT
For Immediate Release: April 29, 2019
Contact: Adam Capper
Phone: (916) 319-2021

(Sacramento) – Assemblymember Gray (D-Merced) released the following statement regarding Governor Newsom’s Executive Order directing the California Natural Resources Agency, the California Environmental Protection Agency, and the California Department of Food and Agriculture to develop a water resilience portfolio that meets the needs of California’s communities, economy, and environment by reassessing priorities contained within the 2016 California Water Action Plan, updating projected climate change impacts to our water systems, identifying key priorities for the administration’s water portfolio, and identifying how to improve integration across state agencies to implement these priorities.

 

“California has not had a real water plan in decades. Real plans require real decisions, and previous administrations have refused to take on this tough issue. California’s aging water infrastructure has paid the price. That is why I introduced Assembly Bill 638 earlier this year to force the state to actually address the very real impacts that climate change will have on our dams, canals, aqueducts, and levies.

 

“The shrinking Sierra snowpack acts as California’s largest natural reservoir, but that reservoir is projected to shrink by half in as little as twenty years. That means less snow and more rain. Unless we take action now, we will watch millions of gallons of what used to be irrigation and drinking water wash out into the ocean.

 

“I don’t expect Governor Newsom and I to agree on every detail of a water plan, but I appreciate that he is not afraid to have the difficult conversations that we must have in order to get one. The Governor’s Executive Order today is a critical starting point to get everyone to the table and to put those who would rather ignore this problem on notice. Whether they like it or not, the state will have a plan for water going forward.”

Wednesday, April 24, 2019
Friday, April 12, 2019

Assemblyman Gray criticizes water board, says Delta-Bay Plan hurts struggling communities

About 80,000 people in Merced and Stanislaus counties can't drink water from their tap without risking their health, according to clean water advocates who spoke on Friday, May 11, 2018. BY THADDEUS MILLER

After the state Water Resources Control Board said its Delta-Bay Plan would not have “significant” effect on the drinking water of disadvantaged communities Assemblymember Adam C. Gray, D-Merced, blasted the board members for what he said was their lack of concern for impoverished and minority communities.

Gray recently introduced Assembly Bill 637, which requires the board to identify disadvantaged communities and mitigate impacts to the drinking water supplies serving those communities. The bill also requires the board to hold public hearings in or near those communities.

“It should be the rule – not the exception – that impacted communities are able to make their voices heard,” Gray said on Wednesday.

The water board did not immediately return requests for comment.

There are 17 communities in the 21st Assembly district where wells have recently tested positive for harmful toxins. About 80,000 people in Merced and Stanislaus counties can’t drink water from their tap without risking their health, according to clean water advocates.

They draw those numbers from records provided by the State Water Resources Control Board.

The Delta-Bay Plan requires water entities including the Modesto, Turlock, Oakdale and Merced irrigation districts to sacrifice 40 percent unimpaired river flows, allowing it to go to the San Francisco Bay Area from February through June. That leaves less water for agriculture and city water customers in the Central San Joaquin Valley.

Sending that water would have an adverse effect in areas that already struggle with water quality, Gray said. He argued the board should follow the same rules as the federal government.

In 1994, President Bill Clinton issued an executive order prohibiting federal agencies from discriminating against and ignoring impacts to low income and minority communities.

“Any rational person would agree that advancing a plan which devastates impoverished neighborhoods, degrades drinking water, and openly ignores impacts to some of the most vulnerable communities in the state should be against the law – but the Water Board is not rational,” Gray said.