California State Capitol in Sacramento
Engage Magazine Fall 2020

View from the Capitol: Looking to the New Year

by Eric Dowdy, Chief Government Affairs Officer, LeadingAge California

Eric Dowdy, LeadingAge CaliforniaWith the 2020 election (somewhat) behind us and the COVID-19 infection rate picking up momentum as we head into the winter months, the prospects for regaining a sense of normalcy next year remain very uncertain. The pandemic has thrown the state’s budget into a deficit situation conservatively projected to be $18 billion, or if you use Governor Newsom’s number, as high as $54 billion. This lack of funds will grind to a halt any state initiatives that involve new dollars for at least this year, possibly into 2022 depending on our pace of recovery. This election continues the California Legislature’s heavily Democratic supermajority in both the Senate and Assembly. A priority of the Newsom administration is its work on the Master Plan for Aging. The culmination of the year’s long work resulted in recommendations, which are currently before the governor’s cabinet. LeadingAge California’s priority items include:

Affordable Senior Housing: The state needs to invest in building and retaining affordable housing stock for older Californians. As policymakers have increasingly come to know that “housing in healthcare,” we will continue our call to ensure that every Californian has access to housing they can afford.

Workforce: The pandemic has worsened the acute workforce issues our sector has been experiencing for many years. Action needs to be taken quickly to get new workers into the field and to increase the clinical expertise from more geriatricians to caregivers. 

Long-Term Services and Supports Financing: The work continues with our partners on the California Aging and Disability Alliance (CADA). We continue to advance the call for a LTSS benefit that provides much needed support for older adults to access the services they need to maintain their autonomy, independence and self-direction.

With the new administration, there is hope that stimulus money will be distributed to the state to assist with shortfalls. However, it is unlikely that this will be more than a band-aid until the state begins to recover from the pandemic and the economy revives itself. Despite this, we will continue our advocacy so move forward on these important issues.

While 2021 will undoubtedly be another difficult year, we are hopeful as we see signs of new dollars to states, refocused efforts to control the pandemic, and a solid blueprint in the Master Plan to lead the way. Please join us as we continue our advocacy in 2021 with virtual events that will help spread our message in Sacramento. We cannot do it without you.

Wishing you all a happy, safe and prosperous New Year!

Eric Dowdy
Chief Government Relations Officer