Press Release

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.

Friday, April 12, 2019

Assemblymember Gray Tours Flood Operations Center

 

ASSEMBLYMEMBER ADAM C. GRAY
21ST ASSEMBLY DISTRICT
For Immediate Release: April 12, 2019
Contact: Adam Capper
Phone: (916) 319-2021

 

(Sacramento) – Assemblymember Adam C. Gray (D-Merced), Chair of the Assembly Governmental Organization Committee, met with meteorologists and flood management officials with the Department of Water Resources (DWR) and the National Weather Service (NWS) at the DWR Flood Operations Center to receive an update on flood preparedness, interagency cooperation, and the impact of climate change on water storage.

The Department of Water Resources recently announced that the Sierra snowpack is 162 percent of average and statewide snow water equivalent has tripled since the beginning of February.  Snow water equivalent is one of the factors used by water managers to estimate spring runoff.  California typically receives close to 200 million acre-feet of water per year from rain and snow and statewide, and the Sierra snowpack provides 30 percent of California’s water needs.

“Fortunately, this has been a rebound year for California’s water supply,” said Gray. “But the abundance of water also carries a certain amount of risk. Today was an opportunity to make sure our flood management officials at the state and federal level are working together and prepared to respond in case of an emergency.”