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Legislators Push For $20 Million To Help Families of VTA Shooting Victims, Transit Agency

SAN JOSE (KPIX) -- State and local leaders on Monday were discussing financial support that would be provided to victims' families, survivors and the VTA itself one month after the mass shooting at a San Jose railyard.

State leaders are talking about allocating $20 million aimed at helping the survivors and families of the nine victims killed in the May 26 shooting, as well as the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority.

On May 26, VTA worker Samuel Cassidy left his San Jose home and walked into his workplace with an arsenal of weapons and opened fire on his colleagues before turning the gun on himself.

The continuing investigation into what led to the deadly mass shooting is a raw reminder of that awful morning just over a month ago.

"Nearly a hundred workers witnessed this tragedy going down first hand," State Senator Dave Cortese, who represents much of Santa Clara County, said during a Monday morning Zoom call on the topic. "The long term mental health impacts of experiencing something like that is truly unknown to most of us, but something that professional assistance and resources can help deal with."

State leaders like Cortese and others are working to get the $20 million budget modification voted on by both houses of the state legislature Monday and signed by Governor Newsom before July 1st.

During the Zoom call, local and state leaders said the funds will help address the mental health needs of the VTA workers and their families along with repairs and safety upgrades to the light rail service itself. They hope the help prevents future workplace violence.

"Making sure that location is hardened and protected long term is going to be very, very important. And also so that employees feel safe going back to work," said Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez.

"We know how important it is to keep our community running and we know that, as we come out of shelter-in-place and COVID restrictions and containment, now more than ever those trains need to continue to connect people across the valley and beyond," said Cortese.

State leaders say if everything passes, the funds will be available immediately after July 1st with a few weeks of lag time, providing those families and the transit agency the needed resources soon.

There is still no word on when VTA light rail service will be back and running in San Jose. Leaders said they will be talking about that later Monday too.

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