California could award VTA $20M in emergency funds in wake of mass shooting

California lawmakers are set to vote Monday on the state budget, which includes $20 million in emergency funds to help the Valley Transportation Authority recover from the mass shooting at the rail yard last month.

The emergency amendments added to the budget would set aside $10 million dollars to help VTA workers and another $10 million to make repairs to the damaged rail yard.

It was one month ago when VTA worker, Stephen Cassidy entered the Guadalupe Rail Yard and shot and killed nine of his co-workers.

VTA rail service has been suspended indefinitely since then.

The agency needs to train new workers as well as provide long-term counseling and mental health services to help survivors, heal.

The head of one of the VTA's unions said the emergency funds would also support the victims' families - although the details on exactly how and how much - haven't been finalized.

"These families are very scared and afraid. In many cases, the main breadwinners are no longer with us. There's a lot of concern, a lot of fear," said John Courtney, ATU 265 president. "We have to let them know there's a process in place to take care of all the family members and all the grieving families. We're trying our best to think of everything."

Courtney was present at the time of the massacre and has not publicly spoken about it before. 

There is extensive damage to the VTA railyard site and "control center" where much of the shooting happened. The state budget includes $10 million in emergency funds for repairs and new security features.

"Literally replace doors, windows, in some cases the technology was damaged; computer screens that were used to track light rail," said South Bay state Sen. Dave Cortese.

Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors President Cindy Chavez, who also sits on the VTA Board, said the board is considering asking for more money in the future, to make dramatic changes to the rail yard.

"We're going to have to go back to the state and federal government for an additional batch of money, that we think is somewhere between $85 million to $150 million to be able to raze the building where most of the incident occurred - to level it. It could and should need to be rebuilt," Chavez said.

The VTA is working closely with its unions to figure out when they'll be able to resume light rail service, but there is no exact date or timeline, yet.

The emergency funds were added to the overall state budget. The California Assembly and Senate are expected to vote on the budget later on Monday. 

Once Gov. Gavin Newsom signs the budget bill into law, the emergency funds for VTA should become available early next month.

"Once they know the money is coming, they [VTA] can begin the process of making the commitments to start comforting the people there," Cortese said.