A Win for California!

Last night, Governor Brown signed into law two bills which will authorize hundreds of millions of dollars in investments in California's most disadvantaged and polluted communities. This win comes after four years of organizing by the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights and our allies in Sacramento and beyond.

Communities throughout California will benefit from SB 535 by Senator Kevin de León and AB 1532 by Assembly Speaker John Pérez. 25% of Cap and Trade allocations to reduce greenhouse gasses must benefit low income communities that suffer high rates of pollution, and ten percent must be spent on jobs and programs in our communities. This duo of bills promises that Californians who breath the dirtiest air can expect on the ground green investment to clean up pollution while sparking job growth that is necessary to revitalize their communities.
 
Our work on SB 535 began in 2009 when our Green Collar Jobs Campaign saw a way to ensure that Cap and Trade revenue could actually make a difference in California communities most hurt by poverty and pollution. In the fall of 2010, the Community Benefits Fund (aka what we now call SB 535) passed the legislature- making it the first bill of its kind to pass. But without support from Governor Schwarzenegger, the fight continued. 
 
The next year, we worked with Senator de Leon to reintroduce a Community Benefits Fund which won approval from the State Senate but didn't become law.
 
This year, however, our victory has been won as we worked hard with our allies to secure support from all the necessary powers-that-be for the new and improved California Communities Healthy Air Revitalization Trust.
 
SB 535 was packaged together with AB 1532, the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund which will establish the broad framework and process for investing AB 32 auction revenues. The measure ensures a public process and accountability by mandating that agencies develop investment plans, host public hearings, report their efforts to the public, and ensure active oversight by legislative budget committees.  
 
We applaud Speaker Perez, Senator de Leon and Governor Brown for their leadership on this issue. And we have to give a huge Ella Baker Center shout out the organizations that we partnered with to win these long-term and life-saving investments: Coalition for Clean Air, Natural Resources Defense Council, Greenlining, Asian Pacific Environmental Network, and NAACP of California. Our gratitude is also huge for the past and present members of the team at the Ella Baker Center who worked on this bill over the years including Glenn Backes, Denise Fan, Ian Kim, Evelyn Rangel-Medina, and Tia Katrina Taruc-Canlas.
 
Lastly, thanks to the hundreds of you who have written, called, and showed up in Sacramento to advocate for these vital bills. Together we have secured a brighter, greener future for CA communities that need it the most.