Ceres’ representative in the California State Assembly, Democrat Adam Gray of Merced, expressed mixed feelings about the passage of the state’s new budget that includes significant tax cuts, rebates, and investments in the Valley while falling short of suspending the gas tax and failing to invest in new water storage.
His office issued the following reactions from Gray to various aspects of the 2022-23 fiscal year budget:
Gas taxes and rebates
“The state budget fails to incorporate the 12-month gas tax holiday that I and the bipartisan California Problem Solvers Caucus introduced. President Biden recently called for a federal gas tax holiday and urged states to suspend their taxes as well. With a $100 billion surplus to work with, there is no excuse for California’s failure to act.
“The budget does suspend the 23 cents per gallon sales tax on diesel for a full year. This tax holiday will primarily benefit blue-collar workers and help combat the rising prices of consumer goods transported by trucks including California-grown fruits and vegetables. The budget also includes critical tax rebates to individuals and families of up to $1,050. These payments are long overdue and let Californians decide how to put $9.5 billion to work in our state.
“All of this is good stuff, but the budget simply should have suspended the gas tax. I will continue to push for the passage of AB 2457 to suspend the gas tax for a full year.”
UC Merced & Merced College
“The budget includes historic investments to expand college access including $100 million to accelerate the growth of UC Merced and investments at UC Merced and Merced College to support affordable student housing. This comes just one year after the state committed more than $215 million to build a medical education building at UC Merced to support the medical school. UC Merced remains on track to enroll its first class of future doctors next year.”
“After another year of severe drought, California continues to ignore the obvious solution – build more water storage.
“Just this week, my request to audit the Department of Water Resources and the State Water Board was approved after the revelation that the state’s water supply forecast was off by more than 700,000 acre-feet. When complete, the audit will identify the problems leading to the state’s mismanagement of our surface water reservoirs and help us utilize our current storage capacity as effectively as possible.
“This audit is long overdue, but we need to pair better management practices with additional water storage capacity. California’s population has doubled while we have relied on the same water storage infrastructure built and paid for by our grandparents.
“It’s time to bring California water into the 21st century.”
“When I was first elected to the state Legislature, California’s per-pupil funding was famously nearly the lowest in the nation. With the signing of the 2022 state budget, California’s per-pupil funding now ranks in the top 15 nationally, and we have doubled funding for K-12 students throughout Merced and Stanislaus counties. I am proud to support our students, teachers, and schools with real and meaningful investments.”