On Monday, both the Assembly and the Senate passed a bill that would, in part, provide $1.4 million in funding to study hate crimes committed against Asian Americans during the pandemic.
Assembly Bill 85, authored by the Assembly Budget Committee, would add additional appropriations to the 2020-2021 state budget. While many of the budget additions are short-term COVID-19 or economic related programs or program extensions, Assemblyman Phil Ting’s (D-San Francisco) addition to fund Asian American hate crime analysis and research was noted as one of the few provisions in AB 85 to not directly benefit Californian health, welfare, education, or economy-based issues.
According to Section 14, Provision 20 of the budget additions, $1.4 million will go to the Asian American Studies Center at UCLA. This funding will in part fund the Stop Asian American Pacific Islander Hate website, the COVID-19 Multilingual Resources website, analysis and research associated with hate incidents experienced by Asian Pacific Islander communities, and policy research projects on COVID-19-related challenges directly impacting Asian Pacific Islander communities. Funding may also go to the Asian American Studies Department at CSU San Francisco and other entities involved in the Stop Anti-Asian Hate collaborative.
Assemblyman Ting added to provision due to the rise in hate crimes against Asian Americans in California in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic start in March of 2020. While hate crime rates have gone up nationwide due to individuals blaming Asian Americans, specifically Chinese-Americans, for the COVID-19 pandemic, California has seen large numbers of violent incidents, mainly centered around the Bay Area.
According to a report from Stop AAPI Hate, 1,226 incidents of violence against Asian Americans of the total U.S. figure of 2,808 incidents have occurred in the Golden State. Over 700 have taken place in California, with nearly 300 of those taking place in San Francisco alone.
“The rise in hate incidents against Asian Americans during the pandemic is alarming,” explained Assemblyman Ting on Monday. “But, we can’t solve a problem without knowing how big it is. New state funding allows the data gathering to continue, and the research will ultimately lead us to solutions that will make all communities safer.”
While Ting’s provision was widely accepted by both parties, AB 85 itself was either voted against or not voted on by Republicans and a handful of Democrats in both houses on Monday due to the additional inflation of the state budget and those lawmakers finding issue with other provisions in the bill.
Others have noted that the provision is only a one-time boost of funding, making the spending more palatable to many.
“This isn’t that long-term of a thing,” summarized Dave Chin, a San Francisco native who has helped organize against growing numbers of anti-Asian incidents for the Globe. “It’s just for a study. But if this continues, then we’re going to see calls for continued funding. Especially in San Francisco and other cities around here. San Francisco doesn’t have that sort of racist reputation, but we’re getting hard figures proving otherwise, as well as first-hand accounts of all of these disturbing actions. I’ve seen several myself. We’re all Americans here. This shouldn’t be happening.”
AB 85 is currently on the Governor’s desk awaiting his signature. Governor Newsom is expected to sign it into law by the end of the week.