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Next up for 47th Assemblywoman Eloise Gomez Reyes: Helping the vulnerable

Assemblywoman Eloise Gomez Reyes’ new job in Sacramento could prove key for the state’s most vulnerable residents — and her appointment says a lot about the direction of the state legislature.
Late last month, Reyes, a Democrat from Grand Terrace in her second term representing the 47th Assembly District, was named Chair of the Committee on Human Services. Her committee has jurisdiction over child welfare services, foster care, homelessness and other social services, including some that touch on of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s biggest campaign promises.
“We have to remember that while we have many record economic gains here in our state, we’ve left behind a lot of our communities” said Reyes, whose district includes the cities of Fontana, Rialto, Colton, Grand Terrace, San Bernardino and the unincorporated areas of Muscoy and Bloomington.
Aligning agendas
Since defeating fellow Democrat  Cheryl Brown  in 2016, Reyes has sat on key committees. In the 2017-18 session, she also served as an Assistant Majority Whip .
In November, Reyes ran unopposed, winning re-election in a district made up of mostly registered Democrats.
“I think it was clear to the speaker, who makes the assignments, that I came to work and to work hard,” Reyes said. “My goal is to make sure that my community is protected, that my community receives the resources and the opportunities. I have been single minded in that regard.”
Reyes’ appointment, announced by Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, D-Lakewood, aligns with a more progressive agenda outlined by Newsom during his campaign. It’s also in line with many state Democrats who now have complete control of the Assembly and Senate, according to Christina Villegas, assistant professor in Cal State San Bernardino’s Political Science department.
“It seems like the legislature is gearing up to take a more progressively liberal action in the coming year,” Villegas said. “And Reyes’ appointment to the Committee on Human Services is a strong indication of that.”
In particular, Newsom has promised to expand early childhood development, and last month Reyes introduced legislation aimed at that goal. Reyes’ AB 6 would establish an Office of Early Childhood Education to implement youth programs and universal preschool.
On Thursday, Jan. 10, Reyes, also a member of the Blue Ribbon Commission on Early Childhood Education, introduced another proposed bill, AB 194. It would allocate $1 billion in the annual state budget to improve access to subsidized child care.
As committee Chair, Reyes hopes to focus on supporting foster children and improve access to child care to families who work nontraditional work hours. In the Inland Empire, Reyes said, that would include about 70 percent of families who rely on subsidized child care.
“We have to find a better way, when we talk about child care, to be able to take care of the needs of families so we provide the child care when they need it, not when the state says it should be provided,” Reyes said.
Another focus, Reyes said, is to reduce and prevent homelessness. It’s a huge issue across the state and a growing problem in San Bernardino County, where her entire district lies.
A year ago, the county was found to have 2,118 homeless individuals, up 13.5 percent from 2017, according to the results of the 2018 Point in Time Count, an annual census of homeless people. The data reflected increases in the numbers of homeless veterans, unaccompanied women, and unsheltered families.
In June, the county placed its 1,000th homeless veteran in permanent housing, a milestone in the county’s push to make sure there are no homeless veterans locally.
“I know San Bernardino County has done a great job with our veterans and I think that’s a model that needs to be used in some of our other groups,” Reyes said.
In addition to her focus on social services, Reyes said she plans to reintroduce legislation aimed at restoring vehicle license fee revenue to cities that have grown geographically, such as Fontana and San Bernardino.
In addition to her role as head of the Human Services committee, Reyes will continue to sit on committees on aging and long-term care, budget, judiciary, utilities and energy, legislative ethics and a budget subcommittee on resources and transportation.
More money, more services
A budget surplus and a robust economy means there is more money to support Newsom’s and state Democrats’ progressive causes. But Villegas noted — and former Gov. Jerry Brown repeatedly warned — surpluses can disappear, especially during economic downturns.
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Most of California’s revenue comes from income taxes, which are already among the the highest in the country and can be volatile during a downturn, Villegas said. Also, programs soon could lose money to increased pension costs, which are expected to eat into future budgets.
When it comes to Reyes’ policies, they’re not necessarily business friendly, in a district where jobs and the economy are priorities — something Brown recognized while representative, Villegas said.
“More of the district is made up of blue collar workers who, for the most part, can be negatively affected by policies that are anti-business, or, maybe decrease the incentive for businesses to hire or expend,” Villegas said.
In a state where Republicans out of power, the fight in the legislature will be between moderate and liberal democrats, with Reyes falling into the latter category.
“Coming in with this budget surplus, I think progressives are going to have high expectations for Gov. Newsom, (and) progressives like Reyes,” Villegas said.
“Then, the fact that Rendon appointed her as chair of the Committee on Human Services, shows that the thinking of the legislature will be increasingly progressive in nature to carry out many of those promises Newsom made.”

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