Press Releases

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

   

  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

  DATE: 10/1/2019    

  Contact: Amber Edwards, Director of Marketing and Communications

                  209.422.6421, aedwards@opportunitystanislaus.com

                                                                                                                                                  

Modesto Projects Become Recipients of Region’s Biggest Ever EDA Grant

 

Modesto, CA– Students at two Stanislaus County schools will be training on cutting-edge equipment, thanks to a grant of nearly one million dollars received from the Economic Development Administration, a bureau within the United States Department of Commerce. The training is expected to save 453 jobs while creating at least 20 new positions.

 

The funding, allocated to VOLT Institute and Modesto Junior College (MJC), will be used for the purchase of equipment on par with machines used in industrial settings at local employers. David White, Chief Executive Officer of Opportunity Stanislaus, the organization responsible for conceptualizing VOLT Institute, knows the importance of high-tech equipment in the classroom. “The feedback we keep getting from employers is that our program is solid but that having equipment in the classroom similar to the machines students will be using in the field after graduation is essential to their success,” said White. “We are launching PLC training in our next class starting in October and this will allow us to add coursework from the nationally-recognized NIMS system to our offerings. We are especially excited to offer Amatrol’s popular mechatronics course.”

 

For its part Modesto Junior College, a trailblazer in creating career pathways that lead to local jobs, will be adding equipment that complements its Career Technical Education programs with partner high schools. “We are happy to work with Opportunity Stanislaus, the Stanislaus County Office of Education (SCOE), and local employers. This grant helps build a pipeline for local residents to gain technical skills and advance their careers through additional training and education,” remarked Modesto Junior College President Dr. James Houpis.

 

The grant required match funding, a hurdle overcome by Assemblymember Adam C. Gray’s work to get a million dollars for VOLT Institute and MJC allocated in the 2018-19 California State Budget. Of making the project a priority Gray said, “We have a significant shortage of workers with the real skills necessary to get these good-paying jobs. We are encouraged that VOLT and MJC were able to use this state money to assemble a total of $2 million from federal and state grants to train an additional 200 students annually by expanding its certified industrial maintenance program and the industrial electronics, manufacturing, and machine program.”

 

Gray is not the only legislator associated with support for the project. Congressman Josh Harder has made his support for technical training and VOLT Institute in particular known since taking office, attending several of the school’s events and calling training in key areas a matter of statewide importance. “This is huge news – we’ve got all these talented people in the Valley who want good-paying jobs close to home, but they don’t always have the skills or experience they need to fill them,” said Representative Harder. “VOLT has already proven they can step in to fix this problem, and now they’re going to have even more capacity to get people prepped and into a good career. It’s good for businesses looking to hire, it’s great for workers, and it’s one more way we can signal to employers outside of our area that we have a highly-skilled workforce ready to get the job done.”

 

VOLT Institute is a partnership between Opportunity Stanislaus, the county’s economic development organization that is committed to improving economic vitality in the region, and SCOE. Opportunity Stanislaus, SCOE, and Modesto Junior College have collaborated for the last year in a combined effort to build the best collaborative advanced manufacturing training program in California. This new grant will help strengthen the joint effort. SCOE Superintendent Scott Kuykendall was ecstatic upon hearing the news of the grant award. “We are excited to add to VOLT Institute these exciting new programs,” remarked Kuykendall. “The Tom Changnon Education Center is fast becoming a center of excellence for vocational training.”

 

EDA grants are awarded through a competitive process based upon the application’s merit, the applicant’s eligibility, and the availability of funds. Because of the matching requirements and arduous application, the region has only ever received one such award of just over $140,000, allotted in 2010 to the City of Riverbank. But White hopes the award is the first of many for the county’s workforce development efforts. “We are committed to providing high-quality jobs and that starts with an emphasis on top-notch training. Enthusiasm and ideas for continuous improvement are not in short supply and this encourages us that funding is not either.” Warren Kirk, CEO of Doctors Medical Center and Chairman of the Board for Opportunity Stanislaus added, “This federal grant is a great example of what our region can accomplish when we work together in support of economic development.”

Monday, September 30, 2019

Assemblymembers Flora and Gray Announce Funding

for Boys & Girls Clubs of Stanislaus and Merced Counties

 

SACRAMENTO – The Governor has signed a budget bill containing $500,000 each for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Stanislaus and Merced Counties. Assemblymembers Heath Flora and Adam Gray together represent the two counties in the State Legislature, and worked to secure the funding.

“The Boys & Girls Clubs came to us earlier this year with an urgent plea to help them keep their doors open for the 1,675 underserved youth they serve in our area,” said Assemblymember Flora. “After school programs have a positive impact on the community that we were in danger of losing.”

Assemblymembers Flora and Gray represent different sides of the political aisle, but they came together in a bipartisan fashion to help the Central Valley’s underserved and at-risk youth.

“This funding came at a crucial time for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Stanislaus and Merced,” said Assemblymember Gray. “Heath and I would like to thank the Governor for approving our budget request and keeping these kids enrolled in programs that help insure their future success.”

Boys & Girls Clubs Organizations throughout the country provide high-quality after school youth development, prevention and academic enrichment programs delivered by trained adult professional staff mentors in a safe and secure facility in geographic areas of greatest need where families cannot afford other services. Members receive proven programs which support them to graduate from high school ready for college, trade school, military or the job market.

“It is with the deepest gratitude that we thank Assemblymembers Flora and Gray for working so closely with us and the Governor to get this funding secured that will allow us to continue to provide quality programs for the youth we serve,” said Janine McClanahan, Board Chair of the Boys & Girls Club of Stanislaus County.

“This funding will enable us to serve more kids more often in a safe environment, providing quality youth development programs for the youth of Merced County. It means the world to us and the kids!” added Michelle W. Allison, Board Chair of the Boys & Girls Club of Merced County.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

ASSEMBLYMEMBER ADAM C. GRAY
21ST ASSEMBLY DISTRICT
For Immediate Release: July 2, 2019
Contact: Adam Capper
Phone: (916) 319-2021

Assembly Governmental Organization Committee Introduces Comprehensive E-Cigarette Legislative Package

(Sacramento) – Citing an unprecedented rise in electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) use among middle school and high school students, Assemblymember Adam C. Gray (D-Merced), Chair of the Assembly Governmental Organization Committee, Assemblymember Jordan Cunningham (R-San Luis Obispo), and Assemblymember Robert Rivas (D-Hollister) today announced the introduction of a comprehensive legislative package to combat youth consumption of these nicotine delivery devices. The three-bill package includes AB 1639 (Gray, Cunningham, Rivas), SB 39 (Hill), and SB 538 (Rubio). The bills include provisions designed to:

  • Restrict the packaging and marketing of e-cigarettes
  • Mandate decoy sting operations
  • Establish reasonable penalties for youth in possession of tobacco products
  • Ramp up enforcement efforts and penalties against retailers who sell to kids
  • Restrict the availability of flavored e-cigarettes
  • Mandate age verification technology at the point of sale and delivery

“The number of youth using e-cigarettes is 2.5 times the number smoking traditional tobacco,” said Gray. “We must do more to protect kids from these addictive products by restricting youth access points, limiting marketing exposure to kids, and establishing sufficient penalties for underage sales and possession. There are three times as many children in this country using e-cigarettes than there are electric cars on our roads. This is a serious crisis which calls for a serious response. This legislative package is a model other states should look to emulate.”

“As a father of four, including two teenagers, I have heard firsthand stories about the spread of vaping products,” said Cunningham. “Since 2017, vaping has increased by 50 percent among middle school students, and 80 percent among high school students. These statistics are hard to believe, until you hear stories from your teenage kids about their classmates using these products. The Federal Food & Drug Administration has called the rise in teen vaping an epidemic. Like epidemics of the past, this one deserves a robust and focused public policy response. I believe this bill will help curb the rise of teenage vaping and be positive for public health.”

“This bill is about the health and well-being of kids,” said Rivas. “AB 1639 utilizes proven tools to help ensure these addictive products don’t end up in the hands of our young people. This is an important step and is the start, not the conclusion of our efforts as a legislature to tackle this important issue.”

All three bills are scheduled for a vote in the Assembly Governmental Organization Committee on July 10th.

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.”

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.