By Faith Bautista, Cora Oriel, Dion Catedrilla-Ugbebor, and Jin Sung*
Last week, the movie Crazy Rich Asians opened in theaters nationwide to long lines and critical acclaim, especially here in Daly City where a lot of Asians reside.
Of course, where people are, there the politicians will be. Assemblymember Phil Ting, who is of Chinese descent and who represents the California 19th Assembly District which includes the west side of San Francisco, Broadmoor, Daly City, South San Francisco, and Colma, was one of those who prominently came out to support the movie.
At a press conference before a screening of Crazy Rich Asians, Ting, who is the Vice Chair of the Asian-Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus, touted Senate Bill 871 or the film tax credit law recently signed by Governor Jerry Brown, which supposedly “moves the needle towards inclusion” by including diversity statistics in the application process for tax incentives.
What Ting didn’t say during the press conference was that the very next day, the Assembly Budget Committee that he chairs was about to pass another Senate Bill – Senate Bill 861 (SB 861). He wouldn’t have been proud about passing SB 861 through his committee, however, because this budget trailer bill would move the needle towards exclusion for the Asian Americans and other low- income communities he is supposed to represent.
Here is the plot to the SB 861 story: In 2014, the National Asian American Coalition (NAAC) and two other nonprofit organizations sued Governor Jerry Brown to seek the return of $331 million, which his government illegally diverted for other budgetary purposes from the National Mortgage Special Deposit Fund (NMSDF) – a fund that was created in the aftermath of the subprime mortgage crisis to help fund housing counselors and other essential housing service providers, so that they in turn may help financially distressed homeowners buy homes or modify their mortgages to avoid foreclosure.
Long story short: the NAAC won. Governor Brown appealed. The NAAC won again. Governor Brown was ordered to immediately return the money. Plot twist: instead of doing so, like any of us regular citizens would do upon receiving a court order, Governor Brown and his Legislative Democratic Allies in the Budget Committee sneakily passed SB 861 and AB 1829, both of which are trailer budget bills that seek to overturn the two emphatic California court rulings and forever put the $331 million out of the reach of the struggling homeowners who badly need it.
It is a shame that Assemblymember Ting would allow this bill to even pass his committee without scrutinizing how badly it will affect his constituents. He seems only interested in supporting the fictional Crazy Rich Asians – which perpetuates the “model minority” stereotype that Asians in America can survive on their own without need for governmental help – but not the real-life, “crazy poor” Asians, Latinos, Blacks, and other low-income communities in his district, who are struggling to make ends meet and struggling even more to buy or keep their homes.
The fate of SB 861 is largely in the hands of Assemblymember Ting. Being the Chair of the powerful Budget Committee, he can definitely “move the needle” on passing or rejecting the bill. The question is: Is Assemblymember Phil Ting only for the Crazy Rich Asians, or will he fight for the crazy poor ones, too?
* The authors of this Opinion/Editorial are President & CEO, Board Chair, and Board Members of the National Asian American Coalition, main plaintiffs in the $331 million case against Governor Brown entitled National Asian American Coalition, et. al. v. Brown et. al. The National Asian American Coalition is a founding member of the National Diversity Coalition.
About the National Asian American Coalition
The National Asian American Coalition is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, a HUD-approved home counseling agency, and is certified by the United States Department of Treasury as a Community Development Financial Institution. Our primary mission is to empower the twenty million Asian Americans and two million Asian American small businesses to become a national economic powerhouse. The NAAC is the nation’s leading Asian American nonprofit advocating against foreclosures, advocating for greater economic and small business development, and advancing the growing economic and social power of Asian Americans. For more information: http://naac.org
About the National Diversity Coalition
The National Diversity Coalition is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization that is comprised of community organizers, faith-based leaders, nonprofit directors, and business owners working collectively for greater financial equality and empowerment for underserved groups. Together we work with corporate and government leaders to advocate for greater opportunities in homeownership, small business, and financial literacy for all people. For more information: https://
National Asian American Coalition
Mobile: (650) 892-8469
National Diversity Coalition
Office: (650) 952-0522
Fax: (650) 952-0530