Automated Decision Systems Accountability Act Passes Key Committee

AB 13 seeks to prevent algorithm-driven systems from resulting in discrimination

SACRAMENTO – Today, the Senate Committee on Judiciary approved Assembly Bill (AB) 13, authored by Assemblymember Ed Chau (D–Monterey Park). This bill would bring accountability and transparency to algorithm-driven systems used by public entities, which rely on machine learning or artificial intelligence to make decisions affecting people’s lives.

Specifically, AB 13, titled the Automated Decision System Accountability Act, would create the first statewide algorithmic accountability framework, which sets forth criteria for the procurement of high-risk automated decision systems by government entities in order to minimize the risk of adverse and discriminatory impacts resulting from their design and application.

“Poorly designed algorithm-driven systems can create unfair, biased and inaccurate results, causing disproportionate harm to low-income families and communities of color while also undermining trust in the public sector,” said Assemblymember Chau. “Without clear oversight of these systems by the very government agencies that purchase and use them, we would fail in our responsibility to ensure these systems do not create new harms or result in discriminatory decisions that affect our legal rights.”

According to a 2019 report by The Brookings Institution’s Artificial Intelligence and Emerging Technology Initiative, “algorithmic or automated decision systems use data and statistical analyses to classify people and assess their eligibility for a benefit or penalty.” The application of these systems can assist with credit decisions, employment screening, insurance eligibility, as well as the delivery of government services, criminal justice sentencing, and probation decisions. And, according to a report entitled Algorithmic Bias Explained: How Automated Decision-Making Becomes Automated Discrimination, from The Greenlining Institute, algorithmic bias occurs when an algorithmic decision creates unfair outcomes that unjustifiably and arbitrarily privilege certain groups over others. This matters because algorithms act as gatekeepers to economic opportunity. The Greenlining Institute is the sponsor of the Automated Decision System Accountability Act of 2021.

When it comes to the acquisition of these systems by government agencies, we must examine the state’s procurement policies. A report from the AI Now Institute recommends the adoption of impact assessments by public agencies during the procurement process, to ensure that automated decision systems are more accurate, fair and that potential concerns are addressed before the system goes live and begins to impact the public. The Automated Decisions Systems Accountability Act increases agencies’ internal expertise and capacity to evaluate the systems they procure, helping them avoid public backlash and anticipate concerning issues such as disparate impacts or due process violations.

”We must ensure that our government and public agencies understand the risks and potential impacts when they purchase high-risk algorithms that control access to housing, credit, government services and economic opportunity. We’ve seen time and time again that when these systems fail, communities of color and low-income families bear the brunt of the harm,” said Greenlining Institute Technology Equity Legal Counsel Vinhcent Le., who is “The Greenlining Institute thanks the committee for their support of the Automated Decisions Accountability Act which takes key first steps towards ensuring our government algorithms are fair and unbiased. This is critical if we are to close the racial wealth gap and rebuild eroding public trust in government and technology.”

The Greenlining Institute is the sponsor of the Automated Decision System Accountability Act of 2021.

Assemblymember Ed Chau represents the 49th Assembly District, comprised of the communities of Alhambra, Arcadia, El Monte, Monterey Park, Rosemead, San Gabriel, San Marino, Temple City and portions of Montebello, and South El Monte.

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Equity Analysis Resolution Approved by California State Assembly

HR 39 encourages lawmakers to adopt equity analysis for legislation

Contact:

(SACRAMENTO, CA, July 5, 2021)– Today, HR. 39, a house resolution authored by Assemblymember Mike A. Gipson (D-Carson), and sponsored by The Greenlining Institute, passed the Assembly floor with 55 co-authors. H.R. 39 encourages lawmakers to incorporate an equity impact analysis into the existing committee and floor bill analysis processes, which currently covers fiscal impact and related legislation. 

“My hope is that when we take a closer look at legislation through an equity lens, it ensures that our constituents have equal access to services such as quality health care, financial aid for higher education, and homeownership,” said Assemblymember Mike A. Gipson. “Putting equity at the forefront of our work will help identify any gaps in our decision making process as we introduce or vote on pieces of legislation.” 

H.R. 39 will include the critical and necessary data points about the impact of proposed legislation for vulnerable communities. 

“We applaud the Assembly for making this commitment. As California moves to restart our economy and build a just recovery from the pandemic, it’s more important than ever that we look closely at the impact of any proposed legislation on people of color, low-income Californians, and others whose concerns have too-often been neglected,” said Debra Gore-Mann, President and CEO of The Greenlining Institute, which sponsored the legislation. “California has the opportunity to be a leader in making equity real and ensure we don’t repeat the past mistakes of intended and unintended consequences.”

COVID-19 is exacerbating the well-documented health and economic inequities that low-income people and people of color are experiencing, including persistent economic hardship, high rates of unemployment, preventable negative health outcomes, housing insecurity, community trauma, among other issues. Elected officials need more information about the equity impact of bills in order to make informed decisions and prevent unintended consequences of legislation that widen disparities.

“California has the opportunity to be a leader in operationalizing equity, not just talking about equity, and we are one step closer to that vision with the passage of H.R. 39,” said Kelsey Lyles, Senior Program Manager of Transformative Racial Equity at The Greenlining Institute. “We look forward to working with the Legislature to adopt equity analysis tools and relevant data sources in order to prioritize bills that reduce racial wealth and health gaps.”  

Earlier this year, President Biden issued an executive order requiring all federal departments and agencies to “recognize and work to redress inequities in their policies and programs that serve as barriers to equal opportunity.” Five states — Connecticut, Florida, Iowa, Oregon, and New Jersey — have adopted and implemented policies requiring racial equity impact statements for certain types of proposals.

“I am pleased with the equity measure H.R. 39 being introduced by Assemblymember Mike Gipson and myriad of joining Assemblymembers,” said Wayne Ford, former Iowa State Representative who is the author of the nation’s first minority impact statement. “This is a monumental step towards greater racial and minority consideration within the legislative process here in the great State of California.”

The Greenlining Institute and stakeholders can now work with Capitol staff to support the implementation of the equity analysis. 

 

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THE GREENLINING INSTITUTE works toward a future when communities of color can build wealth, live in healthy places filled with economic opportunity, and are ready to meet the challenges posed by climate change.

www.greenlining.org

@Greenlining

ASSEMBLYMEMBER MIKE A. GIPSON proudly represents the 64th Assembly District. The district includes the cities and communities of Carson, Compton, Gardena, Harbor Gateway, Lynwood, North Long Beach, Rancho Dominguez, South Los Angeles, Torrance, Watts/Willowbrook, and Wilmington.

State Budget Makes Key Investments to Address Recovery

As COVID-19 and systemic racism continue to exacerbate the racial wealth gap, more is needed to ensure a just economy for all. 

Contact: Molly Tafoya, Director of Communications, The Greenlining Institute, molly.tafoya@greenlining.org; 808-256-7064 (cell) 

(Oakland, CA, July 1, 2021) -- The new fiscal year begins today in California with the FY 21-22 state budget taking effect. Earlier this week legislators passed a historic budget package totaling over $262 billion with investments in education, expanding healthcare access, and economic stimulus, including allocating billions of dollars in federal recovery money to communities still reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting economic crisis. These critical and significant budget investments reflect the real needs of the state today, but fail to make the down payment on a just recovery that prioritizes communities hit especially hard. 

“Existing inequities in our society are the result of deliberate policy decisions that we have an opportunity and an obligation to reverse. In turn, our commitment to policies show up in our budget allocations. And, with a historic budget surplus and federal recovery investments, this was the year to get this right,” said Debra Gore-Mann, President and CEO of The Greenlining Institute. “The Greenlining Institute’s budget priorities reflect our ongoing commitment to equity and moving towards a just economy where all can thrive. Unfortunately, this budget fell short.” 

This state budget includes many critical investments that The Greenlining Institute celebrates including expanding Medi-Cal health insurance access to everyone over 50 years of age regardless of immigration status, $8.1 billion in direct relief to Californians, and over $12 billion for various housing and homelessness programs. After a year in which low-income people, particularly people of color, have seen their health and economic well-being devastated by COVID-19, Governor Newsom and legislators made considerable investments to address immediate recovery efforts. 

Unfortunately, the budget ultimately fails to leverage the historic budget surplus to make key, long-term equity investments in the following ways: 

  • Office of Racial Equity: The budget line-item vetoed $10 million in funding for SB 17 which would have funded the creation of an Office of Racial Equity. We are disappointed that Governor Newsom could not reach an agreement with the Legislature, and deprioritized this opportunity to institutionalize their commitments to racial equity with the formation of a dedicated office.
  • Zero funding increases for equitable clean transportation programs: The budget approved $150 million over two years for equitable clean transportation programs--a status quo level of funding from previous years, despite approving the largest single year funding amount ($3.4 billion) for zero-emission-vehicles. This approach of underfunding programs targeted at Californians most in need while also committing large amounts of funds to consumers who don't need financial support to access electric vehicles must change.
  • No transparency on the approved $3.7 billion “Climate Resilience” package: Legislative leaders and Governor Newsom agreed to spend $3.7 billion over three years for climate resilience and adaptation efforts, but the agreement lacks any details. The administration and the Legislature will negotiate these details in the coming days and weeks, adding to what has already been a confusing and frustrating budget process that has left much of the public in the dark as to how spending decisions are being made. Californians deserve more transparency and accountability from our budget process. 

Here are the highlights of the 2021-22 FY Budget as it relates to The Greenlining Institute’s priorities: 

  • Utility Debt Relief. The Greenlining Institute celebrates Governor Newsom and the Legislature's critical commitment to addressing utility debt by providing $1 billion for energy arrearages relief. However, this amount is not enough to protect impacted communities on the long road to recovery. We call on the governor and legislators to protect all Californians from power shut-offs by extending the disconnections moratorium to all those who are still vulnerable to losing energy service, especially during heatwaves and wildfires.
  • Zero Emissions Vehicles. The budget approved $3.4 billion over three years for clean transportation, including $1.4 billion for clean trucks and buses, represents a historic step forward. However, we are disappointed by the status quo level of funding for electric vehicle equity programs compared to the robust commitment of funding to the Clean Vehicle Rebate Project. The budget approves $525 million over three years for the Clean Vehicle Rebate Project which explicitly excludes solely targeting low- and middle-income residents despite multiple studies finding that CVRP mainly benefits higher-income households. While the Greenlining Institute believes that transforming the car market to electric vehicles is important, it is time for the decade-long investment in CVRP to start ramping down, and to shift future investments to programs that prioritize and provide direct benefits to low- and middle-income households.
  • Climate Resilience. In order to advance a true equity budget, legislators need to ensure that community resilience is prioritized alongside natural resource resilience as the details of the budget are finalized through the summer. The budget approved a lump-sum $3.7 billion package for climate resilience but included no details on what is included or how the funding would be disbursed. The Greenlining Institute along with 60+ organizations support the following investments in key, equity-forward programs including: 
    • Transformative Climate Communities (TCC). This innovative program that funds community-led climate projects that integrate clean energy, transportation, affordable housing and more, would be a critical investment that will transform long-neglected neighborhoods into models of economic and environmental sustainability. We urge the Legislature to fully fund TCC at $500 million. 
  • Urban and Community Forestry. California’s urban forests sequester carbon and are critical to helping the most vulnerable populations adapt to climate change, create community resilience and preserve their mental and physical health. The Greenlining Institute calls on the Legislature to invest $200 million for this program.
    • Low-Income Weatherization Program. We encourage legislators to increase their support of the LIWP program to $375 million. This critical program helps low-income households cut their utility bills and improve health and safety while saving energy, creating jobs, and preserving affordable housing. 
    • Urban Greening. Vulnerable populations too often lack access to parks and green spaces within walking distance of their homes. The Urban Greening Program helps to mitigate these inequalities. Governor Newsom’s proposed $200 million over two years represents a solid beginning.
    • Community Resilience Centers. The Greenlining Institute supports the development of a new program for community resilience centers that focuses on placing facilities closest to vulnerable communities that address the growing needs of working class communities of color. As these communities face converging climate, economic, public health crises, we urge leaders to fund this important program at $350 million.
    • Regional Climate Collaboratives. Implementation of SB 1072 (Leyva, 2018) to create the Regional Climate Collaboratives program will build the capacity of local communities to make the transition to a climate resilient future, building community-driven leadership, knowledge, and skills. We urge the governor and legislators to invest $35 million.
    • Vulnerable Communities Platform. The Greenlining Institute calls on the Legislature to invest $5 million under community resilience for this program. The mapping platform will provide California with a tool that holistically and comprehensively displays the data needed to identify communities most vulnerable to climate change impacts.
  • Housing and Rent Relief. Housing unaffordability is an existential crisis facing California’s communities of color. The budget includes $12 billion for housing and homelessness relief over the next two years. While the details are still to be determined, the budget did include $1.75 billion for affordable housing construction, $300 million to preserve existing housing, $130 million for farmworker housing, and $600 million for grants to local governments. The State Legislature and Governor Newsom also announced a deal to extend the eviction moratorium through September 30, and made a commitment to utilize $5.2 billion in federal recovery funds for rent relief.
  • Broadband. The final budget allocation of $6 billion towards open-access middle-mile broadband networks, municipal broadband, and last mile infrastructure is a critical investment that will provide Californians with long-term benefits, while ensuring families can afford the internet while these new networks are built.
  • Stimulus Payments. The budget includes $8.1 billion to Californians with an income up to $75,000 with payments ranging from $500 to $1,100. This is an essential step in ensuring that families still struggling due to COVID-related economic impacts do not fall farther behind. We applaud this investment and look forward to additional innovative thinking to address other areas of racial and social inequality.

“This budget is another step in the long road to recovering from COVID-19, but we cannot and will not return to business as usual,” concluded Gore-Mann. “At The Greenlining Institute, we are committed to ensuring these historic levels of investment are allocated rapidly and equitably so that vulnerable communities are prioritized. Our work over the last three decades has shown us that racial equity will not just ‘happen’. It will be created with intentional, decisive, immediate action.” 

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THE GREENLINING INSTITUTE works toward a future when communities of color can build wealth, live in healthy places filled with economic opportunity, and are ready to meet the challenges posed by climate change.

www.greenlining.org

Greenlining Receives Major Gift from MacKenzie Scott to Advance Transformative Racial Equity Agenda

Press Contact:
Molly Tafoya, Director of Communications, The Greenlining Institute, molly.tafoya@greenlining.org, 808-256-7064 (c)

(Oakland, CA)–The Greenlining Institute expresses our profound gratitude for the generous gift from MacKenzie Scott. This significant investment will be transformational in supporting Greenlining’s long-term efforts to build a world where communities of color can build wealth, live in healthy places filled with economic opportunity, and are ready to meet the challenges posed by climate change. These resources will allow us to stabilize the organization for the near term, and lay a strong foundation to expand and accelerate Greenlining’s impact as articulated through our recently adopted strategic plan.

“We are honored to be selected among so many dedicated and deserving organizations. We applaud the efforts to prioritize frontline communities most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and racial justice organizations that are tackling the root causes of economic disparities,” says Greenlining President & CEO, Debra Gore-Mann. “At a time when communities of color are suffering most, we feel an immense responsibility to take intentional, decisive, and immediate action to confront systemic racism at its root. And that massive undertaking requires sustainable resources and investment. This gift invests in Greenlining’s bold, creative, and ambitious vision as we confront the systems that perpetuate inequity.”

As we reflect upon the vast underinvestment in our social infrastructure, we commend MacKenzie Scott’s commitment to redistributing her wealth to communities that have been most undervalued and disenfranchised in our economic system. We recognize MacKenzie Scott for modeling a shift in philanthropy by quickly deploying unrestricted resources and trusting us to focus on the work that we have honed over decades working on issues of economic and climate equity. We look forward to working hand-in-hand with our diverse partners to continue to drive solutions that ensure that race is never a barrier to opportunity.

CALIFORNIA STATE ASSEMBLY ADVANCES GROUNDBREAKING LEGISLATION TO LIMIT ALGORITHMIC BIAS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

CALIFORNIA STATE ASSEMBLY ADVANCES GROUNDBREAKING LEGISLATION TO LIMIT ALGORITHMIC BIAS

June 1, 2021 – Today, the California State Assembly passed The Automated Decision Systems Accountability Act (AB13), taking a major leadership role in regulating algorithmic decision making systems. AB 13 would encourage businesses and public entities in California that provide benefits or services using artificial intelligence (AI) and automated decision systems to establish processes to test for biases during its development and usage. This is a major step forward in requiring that businesses and public entities take responsibility to ensure that racial inequities do not result from their algorithms.

Among the first legislation of its kind in the country, AB 13 will protect Californians from biased and inaccurate automated decision systems by requiring algorithmic accountability for “high-risk” public sector algorithms that impact Californian’s legal rights, employment opportunities, health and access to economic opportunity.The bill now advances to the Senate. 

Vinhcent Le, Technology Equity Legal Counsel of The Greenlining Institute and Board Member of the California Privacy Protection Agency said the following on the bill’s passing out of the Assembly: 

“Inaccurate and biased government AI costs taxpayers millions of dollars, harms disadvantaged communities, and erodes trust in government. AB 13 is an important step in modernizing government systems and ensuring that algorithmic biases don’t harm our state’s most vulnerable residents. We are incredibly proud that California is leading the way to fairer, more equitable technological practices.” 

Assemblymember Ed Chau (D-Monterey Park), author of AB-13, further commented: 

“As we seek to rebuild our economy in an equitable way following the COVID-19 pandemic, bills such as AB-13 are more important than ever. This is especially true as government agencies seek to utilize algorithm-driven systems to improve operations and meet the needs of citizens in new ways. It is therefore important that we establish a clear accountability framework to ensure these algorithms do not discriminate against Californians. I’m encouraged that this bill passed out of the Assembly today, and I encourage my colleagues in the Senate to do the same.”

 

Newsom Budget Boosts Revolutionary California Climate Effort

Transformative Climate Communities, Seen as National Model, Gets $420 million Over 3 Years

Contact: Bruce Mirken, Greenlining Institute Associate Director for Media Relations, 415-846-7758 (cell)

SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA – In his May budget revision, California Governor Gavin Newsom has proposed a game-changing increase in and stabilization of funding for one of California’s most creative and effective climate programs, Transformative Climate Communities.

Based on legislation passed in 2016, authored by Assemblymember Autumn Burke and sponsored by The Greenlining Institute and the California Environmental Justice Alliance, Transformative Climate Communities offers a model for fighting climate change, building economic prosperity and redressing historic injustices by funding community-developed climate projects in the state’s most under-resourced communities.

“Transformative Climate Communities is unique in two ways,” said Greenlining Institute Vice President of Policy Alvaro Sanchez. “First, it places communities first, requiring that plans and projects be developed with community leadership, based on what residents need and want. Second, unlike most government programs, it puts the pieces together, linking things like clean energy, transportation, affordable housing near transit and more in ways that both cut carbon emissions and create healthier, more liveable, more prosperous neighborhoods.”

“TCC should be a national model for how to do climate policy right, putting communities first and connecting the dots between energy, transportation, housing and jobs,” Sanchez continued. “We applaud the governor for proposing a level of funding in California that can truly tap into this program’s potential, with stable funding of $140 million a year for the next three years. We hope  legislators will go even farther and raise it to the $500 million level that environmental justice advocates have proposed. Congress and the administration should use this as a model as they look at proposals like the Green New Deal for Cities Act.”

TCC elevates community ownership by requiring that all projects develop a collaborative governance structure between stakeholders such as local government, community-based organizations and residents. This ensures that projects are derived from resident-identified needs, assets and visions, and gives community members who know best more ownership over the changes taking place in their own neighborhoods. It also requires applicants to develop plans for community engagement, workforce development, displacement avoidance and climate resilience.

Although hampered by inadequate funding since its inception, TCC has still produced some remarkable results. In Stockton, for example, a $10.8 million TCC grant is funding streetscape improvements, solar installations on over 100 single-family homes and several multi-family housing complexes, energy and water efficiency upgrades for more than 500 households, the planting of over 1,500 trees plus weekly healthy produce boxes for 50 families – simultaneously fighting climate change while providing a better quality of life for residents and promoting jobs and economic opportunities. The Greenlining Institute is presently analyzing TCC’s implementation thus far and will be releasing its findings later this year.

To learn more about The Greenlining Institute, visit www.greenlining.org.

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THE GREENLINING INSTITUTE works toward a future when communities of color can build wealth, live in healthy places filled with economic opportunity, and are ready to meet the challenges posed by climate change.
www.greenlining.org
@Greenlining

Newsom “California Comeback” Budget Can Help California Build a Just Recovery

Greenlining Institute Urges Legislators to Emphasize Racial, Economic Equity

Contact: Bruce Mirken, Greenlining Institute Associate Director for Media Relations, 415-846-7758 (cell)

The revised “California Comeback” budget released by Gov. Gavin Newsom today can pave the way for California’s efforts to build a just recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and a just economy that works for all, and legislators must build on what the governor has proposed, The Greenlining Institute said today.

“We’re heartened by much of what Gov. Newsom has proposed,” said Greenlining Institute President and CEO Debra Gore-Mann. “Now it’s up to the legislature to build on this foundation, using both the budget and pending legislation to build a truly just economy in California. The budget affects all of us, so we urge everyone to contact their legislators and push them to seize this opportunity to pass a just, equitable budget”

Highlights of the governor’s revised budget include:

  • Utility Debt Relief. Greenlining strongly applauds Gov. Newsom’s plan to provide $2 billion in assistance for past-due water and utility bills. This can prevent hundreds of thousands of California households from losing these vital services in publicly owned and investor owned utilities’ territories. More relief will be needed as the state recovers, but this an essential first step.
  • Transformative Climate Communities. The governor’s proposed allocation of $420 million over three years for TCC, an innovative program that funds community-led climate projects that integrate clean energy, transportation, affordable housing and more, represents a huge step in the right direction. We urge the legislature to fully fund TCC at the $500 million level urged by advocates. A companion statement amplifies our thoughts on this ground-breaking program.
  • Housing and Rent Relief. Housing unaffordability is an existential crisis facing California’s communities of color. The governor’s proposed $7 billion allocation for Project Homekey — a program administered by the California Department of Housing and Community Development that funds cities, counties, and housing authorities to purchase and rehabilitate 46,000 units of housing, including hotels, motels, vacant apartment buildings and other buildings and convert them into interim or permanent, long-term housing — is an excellent step in the right direction. We also applaud his commitment of $7.2 billion to help low-income tenants financially affected by the COVID-19 pandemic cover all of their outstanding rent and utility payments.
  • Stimulus Payments. In the governor’s newly proposed $100 billion California Comeback Plan, nearly $12 billion will be set aside for stimulus checks — $600 payments for qualifying taxpayers. This is an essential step in ensuring that families still struggling due to COVID-related economic impacts do not fall farther behind. We applaud the governor’s plan and look forward to additional innovative thinking to address other areas of racial and social inequality.
  • Broadband. The Greenlining Institute strongly supports the governor’s broadband budget and commitment to closing the digital divide. The proposed budget balances short and long term needs by providing $7 billion in funding towards open-access middle-mile broadband networks, municipal broadband and last mile infrastructure that will provide Californians with long-term benefits, while ensuring families can afford the internet while these new networks are built. Municipal broadband and open-access infrastructure investments will create jobs, provide faster internet connections to Californians and enable internet service providers to more easily enter the broadband market and compete with incumbents that charge high prices and are slow to upgrade their networks. The governor’s broadband budget creates a sustainable path for closing the digital divide for families that need internet access for jobs, education, health and economic opportunity.
  • Clean Transportation. Electric vehicle equity programs have proven health and economic benefits for families and communities. The governor’s proposal of $3.2 billion altogether over three years for clean transportation, including $1.4 billion for clean trucks and buses, represents a historic step forward. Because pollution from diesel medium- and heavy-duty vehicles is toxic and disproportionately harms communities of color, this funding will make a huge difference in our communities’ health. The May revision also proposes $650 million over three years for Clean Cars 4 All/Equity Programs and the Clean Vehicle Rebate Program. We are pleased to see equity programs receive $250 million, programs with proven health and economic benefits for families and communities. The revised budget also allocates $400 million over three years for the Clean Vehicle Rebate Program, which has been demonstrated to mainly benefit higher-income households. While Greenlining believes that transforming the car market to electric vehicles is important, it is time for the decade-long investment in CVRP to start ramping down. For now, the governor’s investment in CVRP must be targeted to low-income and middle-income Californians.
  • Urban and Community Forestry. California’s urban forests sequester carbon and are critical to helping the most vulnerable populations adapt to climate change, create community resilience and preserve their mental and physical health. Greenlining supported $200 million for this program but the governor has proposed $23 million.
  • Low-Income Weatherization Program. This critical program helps low-income households cut their utility bills and improve health and safety while saving energy, creating jobs and preserving affordable housing.  The governor’s proposed $50 million allocation is seriously inadequate. Legislators should increase it to $375 million.
  • Urban Greening. Vulnerable populations too often lack access to parks and green spaces within walking distance of their homes. The Urban Greening Program helps to mitigate these inequalities  and Gov. Newsom’s proposed  $200 million over two years represents a solid beginning.
  • Community Resilience Centers. The governor proposed a one-time investment of $150 million to support the development and enhancement of community resilience centers split between local fairgrounds and other community facilities. We are excited about the opportunity to develop a new program for community resilience centers that focuses on placing facilities closest to vulnerable communities that address the growing needs of working class communities of color in the face of the converging climate, economic, public health crises. We believe this important program should be funded at $500 million.
  • Regional Climate Collaboratives. Implementation of SB 1072 (Leyva, 2018) to create the Regional Climate Collaboratives program will build the capacity of local communities to make the transition to a climate resilient future, building community-driven leadership, knowledge, and skills. The governor’s proposed $20 million represents a solid start but should be increased to $35 million.
  • Vulnerable Communities Platform. Although there is mounting evidence of the unequal effects of climate change, California has no existing tool that holistically and comprehensively displays the data needed to identify the most vulnerable communities. Greenlining commends the governor for including this priority in the proposed $5 million under community resilience. We strongly recommend that the state use some of this money to resource a community advisory committee to center the vision and expertise of communities disproportionately impacted by climate change in the development and implementation of the mapping platform.

“We urge the legislature to move swiftly to approve a budget that meets the real needs of California’s diverse communities, but legislators can’t stop there,” Gore-Mann said. “We also urge swift passage of SB 17, to create an Office of Racial Equity, and HR 39, which will commit the Assembly to analyzing the racial equity implications of new legislation. Problems based in racism and discrimination need race-conscious solutions if we are build a truly just economy in our state.”

To learn more about The Greenlining Institute, visit www.greenlining.org.

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THE GREENLINING INSTITUTE works toward a future when communities of color can build wealth, live in healthy places filled with economic opportunity, and are ready to meet the challenges posed by climate change.
www.greenlining.org
@Greenlining

The Greenlining Institute and RePower LA Coalition Applaud Gov. Newsom’s Relief Plans

Unpaid Utility Bills Threatened Hundreds of Thousands with Shut-Offs

Contact:
Bruce Mirken, Greenlining Institute Associate Director for Media Relations, 415-846-7758 (cell)
Hodan Hassan, Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy Communication Specialist, 206-676-2010 (cell)

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA – With utility shut-offs looming for hundreds of thousands of California families struggling with COVID-19-related economic hardships, The Greenlining Institute praised Governor Gavin Newsom’s announcement today. The California Comeback plan outlines the Administration’s commitment to relieving  families burdened by mounting water and energy bills.

“With millions of Californians either unemployed or with greatly reduced incomes due to the pandemic, hundreds of thousands of households face having their electricity, gas or water shut off June 30 without bold state action,” said Carmelita Miller, Greenlining’s Senior Director of Climate Equity. “This proposal, along with vitally needed help for renters, will help keep struggling families afloat as our economy revives. We’re glad the governor listened to LAANE, Greenlining and other advocates who pushed for this help, and it’s critical that the legislature move quickly to adopt these proposals in its final budget.”

The RePower LA Coalition, anchored by the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy and SCOPE, has been working with leaders on the ground in Los Angeles on issues of energy justice. Utility debt has long been a concern for low-income ratepayers, and the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated existing disparities. As of November 2020, residential customers of LADWP had over $469 million in arrearages for water, power, and sewage bills. This is impacting over 500,000 customers in Los Angeles, the majority of them being low income ratepayers. Similar scenarios have been playing out up and down California with more than 800,000 thousand households at risk of service disconnection statewide.

“LAANE and our coalition partners have been uplifting the issue of utility debt since the beginning of the pandemic. Low-income communities and communities of color are most impacted by utility debt,” said Agustin Cabrera, the Director of RePower LA, “We heard from our partners on the ground that utility debt was a growing concern for many low-income Angelenos, and that’s why we started our campaign. We realize that there are limitations on publicly-owned utilities, like LADWP; additional resources are especially important. We are eager to work with the State Legislature and the governor to move this proposal quickly.”

To learn more about The Greenlining Institute, visit www.greenlining.org. To learn more about The Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy, visit www.laane.org.

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 THE GREENLINING INSTITUTE works toward a future when communities of color can build wealth, live in healthy places filled with economic opportunity, and are ready to meet the challenges posed by climate change.

www.greenlining.org
@Greenlining

Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy LAANE is an advocacy organization committed to economic, environmental, and racial justice. We bridge community and labor power to win policies that improve the lives of working families in Los Angeles and in Long Beach

www.laane.org
@LAANE

CA Assembly Resolution Would Encourage Equity Analysis of Bills

Measure by Assemblymember Gipson Would Fill Gap in Analyzing Legislation  

Contact:
Brenda Contreras, Legislative/Press Aide for Assemblymember Mike A. Gipson, Brenda.Contreras@asm.ca.gov
Bruce Mirken, Greenlining Institute Associate Director for Media Relations, 415-846-7758 (cell)

SACRAMENTO – Assemblymember Mike A. Gipson (D-Carson), joined by Assemblymembers Adrin Nazarian, Mark Stone, Luz Rivas and Cristina Garcia, has introduced HR 39, designed to address a major gap in the analysis of new legislation proposed in Sacramento. HR 39 would encourage the California Assembly to explore methods to integrate equity more formally into its daily activities, including the potential adoption of equity impact analysis into the existing committee and floor bill analysis processes.

“Communities of color and other marginalized populations have been disproportionately harmed by poor government decisions, even if unintentional,” said Assemblymember Mike A. Gipson (D-Carson).“ I can think of no better time to reflect and make sure we don’t repeat those mistakes and to guarantee that we bring a new level of transparency and analysis to the legislative process. We must ensure that all Californians have an equal opportunity to benefit from policies that profoundly impact them, such as education, housing, employment, health care, etc. Right now, each new bill gets an analysis examining things like related legislation and fiscal impact, but nothing about its impact on low-income Californians or historically marginalized communities. The equity impact assessment would update the existing government process and identify gaps in our policy-making decisions.”

All levels of government have begun to embrace the need for such analysis. President Biden recently issued an executive order requiring all federal departments and agencies to “recognize and work to redress inequities in their policies and programs that serve as barriers to equal opportunity.” Five states — Connecticut, Florida, Iowa, Oregon, and New Jersey — have adopted and implemented policies requiring racial equity impact statements for certain types of proposals.

“As the Biden administration works to build a serious federal approach to racial equity, it’s already receiving hostile responses claiming that equity must mean racial quotas and is bad for America,” said Debra Gore-Mann, president and CEO of The Greenlining Institute, which sponsored the resolution. “California must not be intimidated, but instead must help lead the effort to commit to equity. We cannot capitulate to white grievance that is rooted in white privilege and a false sense of superiority. It is time to be bold, proactive and center racial equity to build an inclusive country, and HR 39 will help get us there.”

Sammy Nunez, executive director of Fathers & Families of San Joaquin said, “As the most diverse city in America, Stockton’s  2020 election served as a barometer to measure and forecast the socio-political realities of people of color across the United States.  The political landscape is indicative of racial injustice, and the overt oppressive forces that have permeated every aspect of our country since its inception. However, this also presents an opportunity for investments that can transform our struggles into solutions to transcend and heal the racial divide that has kept us from meeting our full potential as a state and nation.”

The Greenlining Institute believes that applying racial and social equity analytics to understand the complexities and harsh realities imposed on people of color represents the minimum California must do to ensure a future devoid of neglect and abandonment and undo the social, political, and institutional traumas perpetuated by the state. This resolution would illuminate  the benefits for all Californians of legislating through an equity-based lens that builds opportunities for all Californians.

To learn more about The Greenlining Institute, visit www.greenlining.org.

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THE GREENLINING INSTITUTE
A Multi-Ethnic Public Policy, Research and Advocacy Institute
www.greenlining.org
@Greenlining

May 5-6 Racial Equity Summit Features “Caste” Author Isabel Wilkerson, Alicia Garza, Michael Tubbs, Manuel Pastor & More

Greenlining Institute Virtual Summit Expands to Two Days of Programming 

Contact: Bruce Mirken, Greenlining Institute Associate Director for Media Relations, 415-846-7758 (cell)

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA – With recent events propelling racial equity to the top of the national agenda, The Greenlining Institute’s annual Economic Summit will bring together an array of world-changing advocates and thinkers to examine where we stand and what possibilities lie ahead. Momentum: A Virtual Summit on Racial Equity expands to two days of online programming, May 5 and 6.

The keynote speaker will be Isabel Wilkerson, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of the bestselling books Caste and The Warmth of Other Suns. After her talk, Wilkerson will engage in an in-depth discussion with Alexis Madrigal, staff writer at The Atlantic and co-founder of the COVID Tracking Project.

In a year that has brought both a renewed sense of hope but also extraordinary challenges, Manuel Pastor, Professor of Sociology and American Studies & Ethnicity at the University of Southern California, will join New Georgia Project Chief Executive Officer Nsé Ufot for a fireside chat highlighting the extraordinary efforts of Georgia voting rights organizers and, the enormous power our movements have built, and the continuing threats to the right to vote.

In another timely session, Black Lives Matter co-creator Alicia Garza will join Cat Brooks, co-founder of Oakland’s Anti Police-Terror Project, Alex Tom of the Center for Empowered Politics and Dulce Garcia of Border Angels to discuss how we can sustain and grow multi-issue and multi-racial organizing efforts to address the crisis in policing, the rise in anti-Asian violence, and broken immigration policies.

On the Summit’s closing day, Michael Tubbs, Special Advisor for Economic Mobility and Opportunity to California Governor Gavin Newsom — who as Mayor of Stockton pioneered that city’s guaranteed basic income program — will join PolicyLink Founder in Residence Angela Glover Blackwell to examine how we can reimagine a society that is truly built upon principles of justice and equity, moving beyond incremental reforms to dream big and lay the groundwork for real transformation of our systems.

Additional panels and discussions will examine a wide variety of issues, from algorithmic bias to reparations and the growing movement to eliminate use of fossil fuels from homes and other buildings. There will also be music, interactive opportunities and an Expo. Tickets are available through 11 a.m. on May 6.

Members of the media wishing to attend should email Bruce Mirken as soon as possible at brucem@greenlining.org for a complimentary pass.

To learn more about The Greenlining Institute, visit www.greenlining.org.

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THE GREENLINING INSTITUTE
A Multi-Ethnic Public Policy, Research and Advocacy Institute
www.greenlining.org
@Greenlining