Effective Advocacy for our Jewish Community

The summer is an exciting time for state politics in California. As of June, some of the more than 2,500 bills introduced in the Assembly and the Senate have made their way to the other side of the legislature and are being vetted, discussed, and amended. There has been a blizzard of activity around the state budget for the next fiscal year, the Governor’s priorities weighed against funding realities, others’ beliefs about the role of state government, and local interests from every corner of the state.

This year’s budget discussions were colored by a new governor eager to make campaign promises come to life as well as ameliorate some of the damage done to infrastructure by our last recession. The Jewish community was involved early in the process, well represented by a 16-member strong Jewish Legislative Caucus (7 senators, 9 assemblymembers) as well as the Jewish Public Affairs Council of California (JPAC). JPAC’s annual Advocacy Day on May 7 provided an opportunity for the community to make their voices heard in Sacramento. Bay Area community members, including representatives from our Federation, joined others from around the state, and 160 advocated with lawmakers around three priorities: allowing California’s elderly to age with dignity, alleviating poverty, and combating anti-Semitic rhetoric and hate-motivated criminal activity.

(From left) Assemblymember Jose Medina, JPAC board chair Lynn Bunim, Assembly members Marc Berman, Richard Bloom, Jesse Gabriel, Adrin Nazarian, and Marc Levine; and JPAC executive director Julie Zeisler. (Photo/Courtesy JPAC)

In the nearly two months following, our community worked together to ensure those priorities and others were represented in the Fiscal Year 2019-2020 budget package signed by Governor Newsom on June 27. We wrote letters of support to both houses' budget subcommittees­, we walked the halls of the legislature, we emailed the Governor, we called staffers. We talked to each other to strategize and to compare notes on conversations.

We commend the Governor and our elected officials now for their leadership on including the following priorities in the signed 2019-2020 state budget:

  • $14.8M for the Multipurpose Senior Services Program to provide frail seniors with professional case management and a range of critical clinical services, including nursing care and social work. Many seniors utilizing these services are Holocaust survivors who are able to remain in their homes and live with dignity. There are 38 providers of these services across the state, including Jewish Family and Children’s Services of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties.
  • $15M to the Nonprofit Security Grant Program to help organizations at risk of hate-motivated violence improve security.
  • $23.5M to rebuild Jewish camps destroyed by the Woolsey and Tubbs wildfires in Northern and Southern California. This one-time funding includes assistance to rebuild Camp Newman in Santa Rosa.
  • A doubling of the investment in the Cal-EITC Working Families Tax Credit, which helps put money back into the pockets of struggling working families.

This budget is a testimony to what happens when area organizations, devoted community leaders, and committed elected officials partner and collaborate on common goals. We would like to especially thank Senator Ben Allen and Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel, co-chairs of the Jewish Legislative Caucus; area members of the caucus, Senators Scott Weiner and Steve Glazer, Assemblymembers Marc Levine, Rebecca Bauer-Kahan, and Marc Berman; the Jewish Community Relations Council of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin, Sonoma, Alameda and Contra Counties; and JPAC.

Categories: Community


July 10, 2019


Amy Spade