Journalist Judy Lin discusses multibillion-dollar state budget at Berkeley event

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Journalist Judy Lin spoke at the Berkeley Public Library’s Central Library branch Sunday about California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s recently released state budget.

Lin is a journalist with CalMatters, a nonprofit news organization nearly 5 years old. Lin covers state finance, workforce and economic issues for the organization, according to the CalMatters website.

Ruby MacDonald, president of the League of Women Voters’ Berkeley, Albany and Emeryville chapter, called Lin’s presence “great timing.”

“The governor last week just announced his budget,” MacDonald said at the event. “We’re really fortunate to have Judy Lin here to answer questions and explain what she thinks is important about the budget.”

Lin began her talk by noting that, by some estimates, California is either the fourth or fifth largest economy worldwide. The state’s budget, which includes $222 billion, focuses on health care initiatives, according to Lin.

Lin also said although California has been the center of several stories that describe it as “in distress,” the state’s unemployment rate is only 3.9%, signifying nearly 10 years of consecutive job growth.

“We’ve been hearing a lot of stories that California is in distress,” Lin said at the event. “The numbers don’t tell that story, so Newsom used this budget … to counteract that narrative that we’re just spiraling out of control.”

Newsom’s budget plans to set aside $1.4 billion to address homelessness through boarding and care facilitiesaccording to Lin, this money is to be directly infused into California communities.

With regard to education, Newsom plans to offer $20,000 to teachers who agree to work in low-income schools, work on attaining universal preschool education and attempt to open up more spots in higher-ranked UC schools, like UCLA and UC Berkeley, according to Lin.

Lin also discussed the governor’s push for health care for all, including undocumented immigrants. When asked by an audience member how much health care would cost the state with and without helping undocumented immigrants, Lin said health care for all would provide income “stability” for medical professionals.

“Doctors, hospitals … they are in favor for MediCal for all, MediCal for undocumented (people),” Lin said at the event. “It’s at least a guaranteed stream of revenue (for the hospitals).”

The budget also allows longer family leave for newborn care — eight weeks instead of the current six. Lin noted that many people in low-income brackets do not take the leave, which state legislature is trying to remedy.

The budget doesn’t include a lot of taxation, according to Lin. One exception is the new tax placed on vaping materials.

Lin ended by mentioning Newsom’s hope to close a state prison and his plan to give an $800 exemption to small businesses in their first year for limited liabilities.

Albany High School student Karanina Zim said she attended the talk because she is associated with the League of Women Voters and is writing a report on the speech.

“Since we’re supposed to be involved directly with the law … it’s important for talks like these to be directly accessible to the community,” Zim said. “It’s important for (the community) to directly step in and be knowledgeable.”

Contact Sebastian Cahill at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @SebastianCahil1.