A few words from Assemblyman Vince Fong
January 6, 2024
Hello and Happy New Year from the Greater Tehachapi Chamber of Commerce! A new year brings new opportunities, and we at the Chamber are excited to be partnering with The Loop newspaper to share the perspectives of our varied members. During each luncheon, we pull lucky winners from a jar to be featured in these columns. In this edition, we are excited to feature Assemblyman Vince Fong, who is a proud member of the Chamber.
As turbulent as 2023 was, my focus on affordability, public safety and wildfire prevention shined through. Three bills I authored were signed into law that will help keep California safe and moving forward.
Assembly Bill 297 will allow the State to issue advance payments for wildfire prevention projects to grant recipients so projects can get started as soon as possible. The bill also classifies prescribed grazing as a permitted practice for consideration of wildfire prevention grants, adding a new method for landowners and local governments to use when treating wildlands. Assembly Bill 641 directly addresses rampant catalytic converter theft by prohibiting anyone that is not a licensed automobile dismantler from possessing more than nine catalytic converters.
Assembly Bill 724 makes the Firearm Safety Certificate test and study materials available in various languages to increase firearm safety awareness and access. In addition to passing successful legislation, I pushed for funding for Kern and Tulare Counties, which was secured in the 2023-24 state budget. Needed local resources to combat homelessness and the fentanyl epidemic will be allocated directly to the Central Valley where the effects of these crises are acutely felt.
Looking to 2024, public safety, governmental accountability and reining in an unsustainable state budget are top of mind. As a member of the newly created Select Committee on Retail Theft, I will fight for new tactics to be implemented to crack down on escalating crimes targeting California businesses, as well as increasing penalties on criminal behavior.
This year, the legislature faced a $32 billion deficit. I warned that this budget was built off of uncertain revenues and a new report from the Legislative Analyst's Office revealed a $68 billion deficit that needs to be solved this year, compounded by annual deficits of about $30 billion for each of the next three years.
We must act immediately to get our fiscal house in order. Fraudulent payments from state programs like student financial aid, the Middle Class Tax Refund and unemployment from the EDD have been contributing to the state's fiscal woes. Restricting wasteful spending has to be coupled with immediate action in order to stabilize the state's economy and maximize affordability for all Californians. While 2024 brings new challenges, I am ready to fight for our way of life and continue the work to make our communities a better place to live and work.
Clare Scotti is the Executive Director of Greater Tehachapi Chamber of Commerce.