California's record budget boosts education, drought relief

Wieckowski highlights budget's funding of I-680/Mission Blvd. improvements

June 28, 2021

SACRAMENTO – The California Legislature approved a record budget tonight to increase per student funding to historic levels, provide over $8 billion in direct relief to people earning up to $75,000 a year, invest $3 billion in a drought relief package and expand financial assistance to small businesses. The budget also includes key funding for several local projects, including funds to upgrade the I-680/Mission Boulevard interchange, the site of several accidents in recent years.

“This is truly an historic budget, especially considering how dire the future looked 15 months ago,” said Senator Bob Wieckowski, who serves on the Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee. “We are providing $21,000 per student and increasing child care access by 200,000 additional slots. We are putting substantial funding into mental health for our youth and undertaking the largest expansion of our Cal Grant program for college students since its inception. This should help drive down student load debt. The state is also investing $3 billion for a large drought relief package and $3.7 billion for climate resiliency. It is a huge change from where we thought we would be when the pandemic began.”

To help small businesses get through the pandemic, California is expanding the Small Business Covid-19 Relief Grant program with an additional $1.5 billion. That raises the overall total to $4 billion in funds since it began late last year. As of early June, 4,520 small companies in the 10th District had received a total of $55 million in grants.

In addition to these funding boosts and record increases in fighting homelessness, the budget still contains the largest reserve in California history.

Both Senator Wieckowski and Assemblymember Bill Quirk advocated for funding to improve the Mission Boulevard interchange.  The budget contains $7.2 million to help redesign the interchange.  In recent years, numerous trucks have overturned at the troubled site. The funding will go towards the preliminary design, environmental clearance and final design. Once those stages are complete, the project would be “shovel ready” and in better position to receive federal funding.

Wieckowski also pushed for $2.1 million in funding to help restore the Stivers Lagoon Nature Area at Fremont’s Central Park. The state funds and money from the Alameda County Flood Control and Water Conservation District should enable the completion of the restoration project. An additional $2.9 million will be used to expand park connections with bicycle and pedestrian paths.

The City of Fremont will receive $2 million for work at the California Nursery Historical Park in the Niles district. The nursery moved to Niles in 1884. The funds will upgrade the visitor’s center and restore the President’s House, which was constructed in 1907. The city acquired the site in 1972.

The budget also contains $5 million for the Math Science Nucleus, which teaches STEM education to K-8 students in Alameda and Santa Clara counties. The nonprofit will use the funds to refurbish its facility and add an outdoor classroom.

The Department of Fish and Game will also receive funding to rename the Eden Landing Ecological Reserve in honor of the late U.S. Representative Pete Stark, who built a strong environmental record while representing the East Bay for 40 years.

Senator Wieckowski’s 10th Senate District includes parts of southern Alameda County and Santa Clara County.