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2019 Overview



Treasurer Ma actively sponsored legislation during her first year in office with the following signed into law by Governor Newsom in the latter half of the year:

  • AB 853 (Smith) – Addresses one of the greatest financial burdens of paying for college — rent. This legislation authorizes ScholarShare 529, California’s college savings plan, to pay rent and other qualified expenses directly to the institution from the beneficiary’s ScholarShare account, if the beneficiary makes the request.

  • AB 872 (Aguiar-Curry) – Closes a loophole in the tax code by protecting children living on a small family farm from a property tax reassessment in the event they become owners of the farm after the death of a parent, under limited circumstances. This bill is narrowly drafted to address an inequity in California’s complicated reassessment laws.

  • AB 1287 (Nazarian) – Requires California Department of Aging, in partnership with other departments and in consultation with stakeholders, to develop a plan and strategy for statewide implementation of the No Wrong Door system (connecting individuals to long- term services) on or before July 2, 2020.

  • SB 527 (McGuire) – Adds language to a California law known as the Williamson Act clarifying that cannabis and hemp cultivation count as “agricultural” or “compatible uses” under agricultural land conservation contracts, thereby making cannabis and hemp cultivation presumptively permissible activities under such contracts.

  • AB 57 (Low) – Changes how a candidate’s name is translated and listed on local ballots. Requires that if a jurisdiction provides a translation of the candidate’s alphabet-based names into a character-based language, such as Chinese, Japanese, or Korean, phonetic transliterations of the alphabet-based name of candidates be provided, unless a candidate can prove that their birth name is different or that they have been known by a different name in the relevant community for at least two years.

  • AB 1583 (Eggman) – The Sales Tax Exclusion Program, operated by the California Alternative Energy and Advanced Transportation Financing Authority, which is chaired by Treasurer Ma, was set to expire in 2021. But thanks to Assembly Bill 1583, also known as the “California Recycling Market Development Act,” the program will continue for an additional five years. AB 1583 also updates California’s recycling programs to adapt to significant challenges in the marketplace and extends a successful sales tax incentive program administered by the Treasurer’s office.

Divestment from Fossil Fuels

Treasurer Ma, an ex officio Board Member of the California State Teachers Retirement System (CalSTRS), broke ranks in September with the CalSTRS Board’s Investment Committee and stood with public school students and teachers in their demands for fossil fuel divestment. They urged the board to divest from fossil fuels to protect teachers’ retirement savings and address the climate crisis.

Interstate Bullet Train

The California Debt Limit Allocation Committee conditionally approved a $300 million tax-exempt private bond allocation for an interstate bullet train from the High Desert north of San Bernardino to Las Vegas, a project completely separate from the state’s high-speed rail plan. The bonds, when issued, will give the Virgin Trains USA- XpressWest project about half what’s needed to build out the system, which will feature electric trains that run mostly across desert lands roughly parallel to Interstate 15. The system’s maintenance yard is planned for California.

California’s ScholarShare 529 College Savings Plan Earns Gold

Morningstar, a leading provider of independent investment research, awarded ScholarShare 529 a “Gold” Morningstar Analyst Rating in October 2019. Only three other 529 plans nationally received this recognition

ScholarShare 529 recently launched a platform designed to assist local governments and non-profits interested in launching their own Children’s Savings Account (CSA) program. Governor Newsom’s budget included $50 million to spur and expand children’s savings account (CSA) programs for children statewide. The California Kids Investment and Development Savings Program will receive a $25 million one-time General Fund allocation to establish a college savings account for every child born on or after July 1, 2020. Also, the Child Savings Account Grant Program will receive a $25 million one-time General Fund allocation to support new and existing CSA programs administered by local governments and nonprofit organizations, giving priority to those that open savings accounts for students at schools in lower-income neighborhoods and programs that invest a minimum of $100 to open each account. This program will be run by the Student Aid Commission.

Gig Workers, Others Register for CalSavers

“Gig” workers, self-employed, and people working for non-mandated employers began registering in October for the state’s pioneering new retirement savings program, CalSavers. (Read more in Financial Wellness.)

First of its Kind for People with Disabilities

CalABLE and the National Disability Institute (NDI) launched a new website in October called the AchievABLE Corner, the first initiative of its kind to provide financial resources and tools for current and potential ABLE account holders on everything from the eligibility requirements, to opening a CalABLE account, to setting and achieving financial goals. The AchievABLE Corner can be accessed through the CalABLE website.

CalABLE is housed in the STO and allows people with disabilities to save money and invest like never before. NDI is one of the nation’s premier advocacy organizations and a recognized leader in promoting the benefits of the federal ABLE Act for people with disabilities.

New Housing, Economic Development, Jobs and Opportunity Zone Ad Hoc Committee

Treasurer Ma created the 12-member committee in October to assist her office in developing out-of-the-box strategies to advance her housing and economic development goals, including: 1) Increase housing production; 2) Increase efficiencies in the use of resources she has available for housing production and economic development; 3) Incentivize/spur new technology; 4) Increase opportunities for people of color in the development and investment space; 5) Empower people to be part of the development happening in their communities; and 6) Increase opportunities for wealth building for all individuals irrespective of their zip code.

Children’s Hospital Programs

Treasurer Ma visited nine children’s hospitals that are receiving funding from the California Health Facilities Financing Authority (CHFFA) under the Children’s Bond Acts of 2004 and 2008. In the Children’s Hospital Bond Act of 2018 (Proposition 4) first funding round, on July 25, 2019, CHFFA approved$9.8 million in grant funds for Valley Children’s Hospital to reimburse the cost of patient care equipment, information technology devices, and renovating and equipping a fluoroscopy room, a new multi-fusion digital radiography room, and an oncology intravenous room to comply with new quality standards. Treasurer Ma is chair of CHFFA.

At the UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital

At the UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital (Los Angeles) where proceeds from the Children’s Hospital Program helped pay for the pediatric-associated costs of a 525-bed replacement hospital, including a neonatal intensive care unit, pediatric intensive care unit, and medical-surgical beds. Additional funds helped construct a 266-bed replacement hospital at the hospital’s Santa Monica campus. The Treasurer and her team met with Johnese Spisso, President and Chief Operating Officer; Dr. Sherin Devaskar, Department of Pediatrics; Santiago Munoz, Chief Strategy Officer; Richard Azar, Chief Operating Officer; and Rhonda Curry, Chief Communications Officer.


The California School Finance Authority’s (CSFA) SB740 program approved and made awards to 347 different charter schools that serve 156,284 students for a total funding of $34.848 million. In addition, the CSFA awarded more than $14 million to 26 schools under the Charter School Incentive Grants Program, assisting more than 12,250 students. Finally, the CSFA awarded 24 loans, a total of more than $5.2 million, to 24 schools through its Charter School Revolving Loan Fund Program.

Community Services Infrastructure Grant Program

Chapter 33, Statutes of 2016 (Senate Bill 843, Section 52) established the Community Services Infrastructure (CSI) Grant Program with the goal of promoting jail and prison diversion programs and services by increasing and expanding mental health treatment facilities, substance use disorder treatment facilities, and trauma-centered service facilities in local communities. In the CSI Program’s first funding round, CHFFA received ten applications, and on July 25, 2019, the Authority approved eight of these for a total amount of $18.2 million. These eight projects are in Los Angeles, Plumas, Riverside, San Joaquin, San Luis Obispo, Santa Cruz, Sonoma, and Yolo counties and are expected to expand jail diversion programs and serve an estimated 2,022 justice- involved individuals annually.

Lifeline Grant Program

The Lifeline Grant Program, authorized by Chapter 52, Statutes of 2017 (Senate Bill 97), assists small and rural health facilities, including community-based clinics, that may be adversely affected financially by a reduction or elimination of federal government assistance and that have little to no access to working capital. Planned Parenthood Northern California, a group of rural health centers that provides family planning, reproductive services, and sexual health services to the residents of Butte, Humboldt, Lake, and Mendocino Counties, applied for a total of $134,068 in grant awards for its Chico, Clearlake, Eureka, and Ukiah facilities, under what is called “the Title X trigger.” On June 20, 2019, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that the Trump Administration’s family planning rule could go into effect immediately. The new rule would make health centers ineligible to receive Title X family planning funding if they provide abortion referrals or services. Planned Parenthood Northern California was thus ineligible to receive $705,664 in Title X funds it otherwise would have received. The four facilities would have received $134,000 of that total. At its October 31, 2019 meeting, CHFFA approved final allocations to Planned Parenthood of Northern California in a total amount of $134,068 to cover the reduced federal funding for the current fiscal year.

Financial Wellness