- Julianne Cravotto
- (916) 319-2061
RIVERSIDE – On Friday, Assemblymember Jose Medina (D-Riverside), the Chair of the Assembly Committee on Higher Education, hosted a press conference in Riverside with fellow legislators, faculty, students, and community leaders in support of Assembly Bill 2046 and a historic budget investment in both the Inland Empire and Central Valley.
The large group of attendees and speakers, including Assembly Majority Leader Eloise Reyes (D-Colton), Assemblymember Sabrina Cervantes (D-Corona), members of UAW Local 2865, and UC Riverside staff, came together to urge the Governor to invest $1.46 billion in UC Riverside and UC Merced, highlighting the generational inequities that have stymied economic growth in both the Inland Empire and the Central Valley. Assemblymember Medina and his colleagues pointed to the lack of investment in the community, especially at UC Riverside and UC Merced, which receive the lowest amount on a per-student basis in the UC campuses.
“As residents of Riverside and the Inland Empire, we know that California is a tale of two states, the haves and the haves not,” said Assemblymember Medina. “The irony that our campuses that serve the greatest number of Latino and black students, first generation students, and low-income families are also the ones that receive the lowest funding as well.”
Standing outside a local movie theater which serves as a classroom, students and faculty spoke to the challenges of not having adequate resources on campuses or even the proper facilities. Moreover, community members such as Julio Figueroa of the Riverside Chamber of Commerce emphasized the benefit that the Inland Rising Fund, as outlined in AB 2046, would have for the region’s public health and work on climate change:
“We are proud of the partnership to establish the School of Medicine at UCR, which is now educating hundreds of medical professionals annually. Upon graduation, these leaders go back to serve and improve quality of life in our local communities... AB 2046 makes the needed investments to allow the school to operate as it was truly envisioned.”
AB 2046, which creates the Inland Rising Fund and allocates historical funding to UC Riverside and UC Merced for climate change research, public health, and infrastructure, recently passed the Assembly with nearly unanimous support. Recently, the Senate and the Assembly approved a joint-legislative budget proposal, which allocates $250 million to UC Riverside and UC Merced and $185 million in climate change research. Governor Gavin Newsom must sign the 2022-2023 state budget by June 15th this year.
"The Inland Empire and the San Joaquin Valley must stand together to ensure California's backbone communities receive their fair share,” said Assemblymember Adam Gray (D-Merced), a joint-author on AB 2046. “The students at UC Merced and Riverside deserve a world class education, but our local universities simply do not receive as much funding as their coastal counterparts. I am proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with Assemblyman Medina to right this wrong and invest in the education of California's fastest growing regions."
AB 2046 now heads to the Senate, where it pends referral to its first policy committee.