The 2022 State Budget Moves California Forward
Every year, the state of California goes through a lengthy process between the governor’s Office, the Senate and the Assembly to finalize an annual budget. In last month’s column, I gave a preview of what was on the table. This month, I’m happy to share where we landed and some key victories for the 43rd District.
Through the budget plan, California is investing $47 billion in infrastructure projects across the state. With these investments, along with what’s expected to be a generous share of the funds from the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, we have an exciting opportunity to accelerate our success in sustainable and clean transportation and infrastructure. My office has been closely involved in a broad range of negotiations, from historic projects – such as high-speed rail – to securing record-level funding for active transportation across California and upgrades, improvements and preservation efforts in our 43rd Assembly District. Here are some of the highlights for our district:
Griffith Park I’m happy to share that we have secured over $1.5 million for transportation infrastructure and facility improvements in Griffith Park and surrounding areas. These funds will enhance safety and center active transportation (biking, walking, etc.) by investing in measures to reduce speed, protect cyclists and pedestrians, and improve visibility. In the near future, we should see improvements and new features such as protected bike lanes for Riverside Drive Bridge and Zoo Drive, and speed humps on the road alongside Ferraro Fields.
Los Angeles Zoo I am proud to have secured $2.2 million for efforts to renovate and create exhibits and gardens at the Los Angeles Zoo. The funds will also be used to improve access to the zoo’s facilities, which sees nearly 2 million visitors annually, and is home to thousands of plants and animals. Many of the zoo’s inhabitants are considered endangered species and have been saved from extinction because of the institution’s solid work. The funds will help maintain and update the facilities.
Investments toward Zero Emissions and Green Space Our $1 million funding request for charging infrastructure along the I-5 and 134 Freeway corridors in Burbank was met in full. This will pay for the design, engineering, utility costs, installation and other costs related to electric-vehicle charging stations.
For the San Fernando/downtown area of Burbank, $1 million was secured for permanent outdoor parklets, removable bollards and other upgrades to improve amenities for the community.
In Glendale, the Verdugo Wash Visioning Project will receive $1 million to advance its vision of a linear city park of 9.4 miles. The park would facilitate walking and cycling with connections to business, entertainment and dining.
Additionally, $2.5 million has been allocated to preserve open space in La Crescenta. The funding will help protect natural habitat and potentially add recreational space for hiking and other activities in the community.
Active Transportation Infrastructure The budget outlines an ambitious and historic $15 billion investment in transportation infrastructure across the state for transit, freight, ports, active transportation and climate adaptation. The funding will help keep California and our economy moving with an emphasis on sustainability.
We’ve made great strides here in the district to build and incorporate safe options for bicyclists, pedestrians and equestrians. In fact, over the past three years I’ve been able to secure $35 million for transformative projects along the LA River that will connect communities and neighborhoods with parks, recreation and job centers.
Throughout the budget negotiations this year, I led the effort to build on that success and invest more in active transportation infrastructure. I’m proud that we’ve secured a record level of funding – $1 billion – to invest in active transportation statewide. The funding will open the door for innovative projects that reduce emissions and congestion, all while better connecting Californians.
High-Speed Rail and the Office of Inspector General As chair of the Assembly Committee on Transportation, I have had strong reservations about the appropriation of large sums of money without proper oversight for high-speed rail. However, I am very proud to announce that we have been able to ensure that the Bakersfield to Merced segment, the first phase of the broader vision for the largest infrastructure project in California history, will now move forward in a way that is respectful of taxpayers’ dollars.
The budget allocates the remaining $4.2 billion in bond funding for high-speed rail. One of the most important actions to come out of our negotiations with the governor is the establishment of the Office of the Inspector General, specifically assigned to oversee the budget for the High-Speed Rail Authority. That means funding for this historic, visionary endeavor will be responsibly managed going forward. Having the inspector general in place to audit and investigate the ongoing project will reduce waste and promote more efficiency and effectiveness. As climate change spurs us to address infrastructure issues all over the state, using our money wisely is critical to achieving our sustainability goals. Having the inspector general as a trustee in this effort will allow the legislature to manage money and timeline expectations, and advance the project with more confidence on behalf of Californians.
All in all, it’s a budget that strikes the right balance of investing in California, while setting aside $37 billion in reserves to help us withstand any economic downturn that may lie ahead. I’ll continue to report on any major budget issues as we continue our discussions with Gov. Newsom. And, as always, please feel free to reach out with your thoughts on our budget, legislation or any general comments or concerns. You can reach my district office at (818) 558-3043 or by email at Assemblymember.Friedman@Assembly.ca.gov.