By Toni G. Atkins
Happy July! Once again we join family, friends and neighbors to celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the founding of our nation. While the ideals of liberty and equality sparked in Philadelphia 246 years ago still haven’t translated into day-to-day reality for many Americans, and at a time when some of our most basic rights and democratic institutions are under attack, there is still so much to celebrate and honor in the Fourth of July and the blueprint of the American Dream.
Fun, safe and meaningful is a pretty good description of San Diego Pride! And, after not being able to be together in person the last couple years, this year’s celebration should be one to remember! There have been some issues with bigots threatening Pride celebrations in 2022, so, once again, it is unfortunate but important for us to remember to be vigilant and watch out for each other. This is our time to shine (and sparkle) and I hope to see everybody safely out and about this year!
The start of July also brings big news from the Capitol: June 30th was the deadline to pass SCA 10, the legislation I wrote to enshrine the right to abortion in California’s Constitution and ensure that those vital health care decisions will still be made privately by women and their healthcare providers, without interference from outside forces. Now that SCA 10 has passed both the Senate and the Assembly, it heads to the voters in November. Additionally, SB 1375, my bill to expand access to reproductive health care by allowing trained and qualified nurse practitioners to perform first trimester abortions without the direct supervision of a physician, passed its first hearing in the Assembly and is continuing its path to the Governor’s desk.
July 1 also marks the beginning of the new fiscal year, when we start implementing the 2022-23 state budget. I’ve shared with you the historic investments and record reserves we included in the budget, which will put California’s wealth to work for families, businesses and students. I am particularly pleased that the Legislature and the Governor were able to combine our approaches and deliver real relief for Californians dealing with the high prices we and the rest of the world have been facing. That means $9.5 billion in direct tax refunds to 23 million California tax filers, with amounts ranging from $200 to $1,050 depending on income, filing status, and dependents. We also increased grants for SSI/SSP and CalWorks so those who need the most help aren’t left out of our relief efforts.
We were also able to put in the final budget the California Dream for All program, my proposal to help California’s first-time homebuyers with money they need for a down payment. In a recent Op-Ed, Donna DeBerry (CEO) and Bruce Mayberry (Board Chair) of the County of San Diego Black Chamber of Commerce and Carla Farley, owner of the Corban Realty Group and past president of the Greater San Diego Association of Realtors, highlighted that the program “has the potential to reduce some of the barriers to homeownership that have disproportionately prevented families of color from owning homes.” Financial independence is another great thing to celebrate, and the California Dream for All program will help many Californians meet that goal.
Happy Pride! And Happy Fourth of July! Here’s to pursuing our lives, liberty, and happiness as exactly who we truly are.