Political Watch: September 7, 2023

• U.S. Rep. Salud Carbajal (D-Santa Barbara) spoke at Pioneer Park with Lompoc Mayor Jenelle Osborne to highlight delivering $1.26 million in federal funding to support park renovations, including a new playground and baseball fields, according to an Aug. 30 statement from the congressman’s office. “Parks and green spaces are essential to the quality of life in every community, and I’m proud to be able to fight for this funding for Central Coast families,” Carbajal said in the statement. “These funds are contributing to critical improvements happening all across Lompoc and across the Central Coast, and I’m excited for local residents to enjoy the results of this work in the coming months and years.” Federal funding is projected to cover half of the renovation costs and is supplemented by Community Development Block grants to Lompoc from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The city will provide the remaining $4 million, which includes a full renovation of the baseball fields and exercise area as well as a replacement of the public restrooms—which is already completed by the city. “I want to thank Congressman Carbajal for investing in Lompoc with this funding for Pioneer Park,” Lompoc Mayor Osborne said in the statement. “His support will make it possible for the city of Lompoc to move forward on a park long overdue for improvements. This park is located near a large number of apartment complexes, so it is the outdoor space used for a variety of purposes, from weekend barbecues to baseball games and birthday parties. Partnerships such as this with our federal officials make a real difference locally.” 

• Following Tropical Storm Hilary’s damage to California specialty crops in late August, U.S. Sen. Alex Padilla (D-California) hosted U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) officials alongside local leaders and growers to announce bipartisan legislation to improve access to federal agriculture disaster programs, according to an Aug. 28 statement from the senator’s office. The Fair Access to Agriculture Disaster Programs Act would waive the adjusted gross income restriction on producers who derive 75 percent of their income from farming, ranching, or related farming practices from receiving USDA disaster program relief. “Whether from drought drying out our farmland or storms flooding our fields—growing conditions for farmers in California and across the country are facing unprecedented impacts from natural disasters,” Padilla said in the statement. “As we approach the Farm Bill expiration this September, hundreds of thousands of farmers are counting on us to make things right. That’s why today I’m announcing the introduction of bipartisan, bicameral legislation to even the playing field for specialty crop growers hoping to access critical federal agriculture disaster programs.”

• Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order to launch a career education effort to prepare students and adults for the workforce and direct additional steps to reduce employment barriers for state jobs—including college degree requirements unnecessary to job duties, according to an Aug. 31 statement from the governor’s office. The governor’s executive order directs the state to align and integrate the implementation of programs supported by billions of dollars in funding to prepare students and workers for high-paying careers. As the economy evolves and unmet needs grow for various types of skilled labor in the trades, green energy, and health care sectors, the executive order launched the development of a new Master Plan on Career Education that will prepare students for the workforce that includes high-paying and fulfilling career paths that don’t require college degrees. “All families, students, and workers deserve the freedom to succeed: to build real-life skills and pursue careers—including those that don’t require college degrees. California is leveraging billions of dollars in investments to prepare students and workers for good-paying, long-lasting, and fulfilling careers,” Newsom said in the statement.

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