An Open Letter to Governor Jerry Brown

On behalf of Regional Asthma Management & Prevention (RAMP), we congratulate you on winning a second opportunity to serve as Governor of this great state of California. We know many daunting tasks lay before you.

In review of your proposed budget released recently, it is evident that your approach, albeit painful, is comprehensive. The theme of your inaugural and state of the state addresses were clear: we’re in this together.

Working for the greater good is something RAMP knows well. We are a collaborative that promotes strategies for reducing asthma through a broad and comprehensive approach that ranges from clinical management to environmental protection. We bring together diverse partners such as public health and community-based organizations, schools, medical providers, and environmental health and justice groups to join forces in reducing the burden of asthma with a focus on communities disproportionately affected by the disease. One in seven people in California has been diagnosed with asthma. In low-income communities of color, things like air pollution, substandard housing, and schools with asthma triggers like mold and pests make this burden even worse. Given the size of California’s population, this ratio is too substantial to be ignored.

The purpose of this letter is to implore you to support efforts to manage and prevent asthma. Your goals and ours are not mutually exclusive. In fact, during your term as Attorney General you championed many similar causes such as greenhouse gas emissions limits. That asthma is a public health concern is evident. We ask that as you work to enact a sensible budget, you bear in mind that ill-considered budget reductions may have both short and long-term fiscal and health impacts.

  • As you continue to make appointments to staff your administration, we urge you to select candidates with a strong sense of the public health effects of their respective agencies, be they environment, health, education or housing.
  • We ask that you strongly support the climate change work undertaken by the previous administration and that you thwart efforts to stop or reverse rules to limit diesel emissions.
  • We urge you to support the potential and promise of the Health in All Policies Task Force, part of the Strategic Growth Council. The Task Force is charged with ensuring that state agencies better incorporated health into their work.
  • We ask that if you pursue your plans to phase out funding for redevelopment agencies that you find alternative ways to support quality affordable housing, which can provide low-income residents with healthy homes that don’t exacerbate their asthma.
  • Use the leadership inherent in your office to support healthy school environments including encouraging schools to take low to no cost actions that improve indoor air quality such as switching to certified green cleaning products or reducing the use of toxic pesticides by implementing integrated pest management. Healthy students in healthy environments means a good education.
  • Support smart growth that decreases auto-dependence and increases walk-ability thereby improving air quality while being careful not to displace low-income residents who otherwise may be forced to live in unhealthier conditions.

We understand that California’s fiscal realities are sobering to say the least. But such a drastic fiscal condition requires more than ever that budget decisions are smart. As you work with the legislature on the budget, please consider that the prevention and management of asthma not only saves lives and improve the quality of life of many Californians but it also lessens the burden on the state.

We appreciate your attention to these issues and look forward to working with you and your administration.

Regards,

RAMP Staff

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