Congressman Salud Carbajal, state Sen. Monique Limón and Santa Barbara County First District Supervisor Das Williams came together Friday morning to provide updates on issues affecting the area during the Santa Barbara South Coast Chamber of Commerce’s Legislative Summit.
The summit was the first to be held in person since the Goleta, Santa Barbara and Carpinteria chambers of commerce merged in 2020.
“We’re often responding to legislation or writing letters to our legislators, so this is their chance to come address us,” South Coast Chamber of Commerce CEO Kristen Miller said. “It’s nice to have [all three legislators] in the same moment.”
Miller also emphasized the importance of having the local representation in the government and of connecting local businesses with the legislators.
Topics discussed during the legislative summit included inflation, homelessness and housing, renewable energy, and more.
“Nothing is more pressing today than the cost of living and inflation that everybody is experiencing,” Carbajal said. “We have been stepping up in Congress to try to make an impact in this economy. We have moved forward the Inflation Reduction Act.”
Carbajal said that some of the effects of the Inflation Reduction Act will be reducing energy costs, reducing prescription drug costs, and reducing the deficit by $300 billion over 10 years.
He also highlighted the American Rescue Plan Act, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the CHIPS and Science Act, and recent gun safety legislation and red flag laws.
Meanwhile, Limón focused on the challenges of child care, education and homelessness.
“This year, we had record investment from the State of California — $128 billion to fund our schools, our educational programs, our transitional kindergarten, special-education investments, preschool, and to enhance school nutrition,” she said.
For homelessness, she discussed the recently passed Community Assistance, Recovery and Empowerment Court — CARE Court — which provides a new plan to get mental health care to homeless individuals who need it, including a process to require court-ordered, short-term stabilization, medication, and recovery support.
“We know that a lot of our homeless are struggling with mental health care needs, and we want to be able to have a body of individuals weigh in in terms of how best to serve our homeless population,” Limón said.
Williams discussed the issues and challenges that Santa Barbara County is facing.
“The state of the county is good, but there are challenges,” he said. “There is one very big fiscal threat to the county — our lack of enough deputy sheriffs. … It’s because of massive amounts of overtime.”
Williams said that something the county is doing right is its efforts in renewable energy and promoting Central Coast Community Energy, encouraging people to electrify their homes, businesses or rides.
He added that the county is set to reach 60% renewable energy by 2025 and is on track to reach 100% renewable energy by 2030 — 15 years ahead of the state.
— Noozhawk staff writer Serena Guentz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.