The Assembly Democrats won $780 million worth of improvements to the Governor's revised budget that will benefit millions of Californians Read More
Statement from Assembly Speaker Toni G. Atkins (D-San Diego)
“The Governor’s signature is the next step for a prudent and progressive budget that will make California a better place to live, work and play. We are sending more money to schools, helping working families by expanding child care and preschool and establishing a state Earned Income Tax Credit, and we improve higher education funding and financial aid. The budget the Governor signed today makes important investments and pays down debt while adding to state reserves. It is not only a reflection of our state’s economic health, but a plan that will continue to help build California’s fiscal fitness.
“While the budget signed today is clearly the best one we’ve had in years, there is more work to do on Medi-Cal, DDS and infrastructure. Today, I will be appointing the members of the Assembly committees for the special sessions that have been called on health care and infrastructure. Those committees will take the lead in resolving the important issues still before us.”
SACRAMENTO – Advancing one of Assembly Democrats top priorities, a key Assembly committee today approved $6 million to help California veterans obtain the federal benefits they are owed, funding which will potentially bring in hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funds to the state, veterans and their families.
“The most basic obligation the state owes our men and women who have served in our nation’s military is to ensure they are receiving the benefits they’ve earned and the services they deserve,” said Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles). “The Subcommittee took the right steps today to help our state’s veterans obtain the pension and compensation benefits they’ve earned. The backlog of these claims is an important issue that must be solved swiftly and efficiently.”
The California Department of Veterans Affairs (Cal Vet) and County Veterans Service Offices (CSVSO) work with California veterans to help them obtain the federal benefits they are owed, such as medical care, education, burial, compensation and pension benefits. According to the California Research Bureau, out of the 79,614 pending claims, 60,629 have been pending for over 125 days—the federal government’s definition of a backlog. Two out of the three US Department of Veteran Affairs federal offices in California have a claim processing turnaround time well above the national average of 349.6 days—in the Los Angeles office, it takes almost 620 days to process a claim, and in the Oakland office, it takes about 618 days.
Of the $6 million approved today by California Assembly Budget Subcommittee on State Administration, half will go toward hiring 36 people at Cal Vet to work in tandem with the three US Department of Veteran Affairs federal offices in California to greatly reduce the backlogged claims and ensure new claims are being processed properly. The other half will be distributed to CVSO to assist veterans in filing claims and to increase outreach and productivity. As a requirement of receiving the funding, Cal Vet will produce a detailed annual report for the next three years.
California has the most veterans in the nation with 1.9 million, and with the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq winding down, an estimated 208,000 additional veterans will be returning to civilian life in California. The funding will be pending final approval in the legislative budget process.
SACRAMENTO – In letters to the San Diego County Board of Supervisors and San Diego County City Selection Committee, Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles) today requested a new list of nominees to fill a seat on the California Coastal Commission.
“Pursuant to Section 30301.2 of the Public Resources Code I am rejecting your proposed California Coastal Commission nominees that you submitted to me on April 23, 2013,” wrote Speaker Perez. “By taking this action I am requesting… a new list of additional nominees.”
The Speaker requested that the agencies submit the names of no less than three county supervisors and three City council members within 45 days.
The term of Commissioner Esther Sanchez, an Oceanside City Council member, expires May 20, 2013. She was appointed to the seat by former Assembly Speaker Karen Bass.
SACRAMENTO – Speaker John A. Pérez released the following statement regarding Gov. Jerry Brown’s May Revise Budget proposal announced today:
“The Governor’s May Budget Revision is another key milestone in our effort to pass a balanced on-time budget by June 15th. We appreciate the Governor’s commitment to maintaining the fiscal stability that has come from an improving economy, legislative Democrats making tough but necessary budget cuts, voters approving the majority-vote budget and voters standing with Democrats in supporting temporary tax revenues. We will review the Governor’s proposals and revenue projections, along with the LAO’s revenue projections, in depth, and his revised budget will be thoroughly discussed throughout the Budget committee and subcommittee process. Assemblymembers will review the Governor’s proposal through the prism of principles outlined in our Blueprint for a Responsible Budget: continuing fiscal responsibility, strengthening the middle class, and delivering effective, efficient services for Californians. On the whole, the Governor’s framework and the Assembly’s Blueprint seem to track well, and we’ll spend the next month reconciling our priorities.”
Excerpted from Capitol Weekly: 05/13/13 7:00 AM PST
The strong revenue California collected in April is one more encouraging sign that after years of weathering the Great Recession we appear to have reached a point of budget stability.
To help build on that stability, Assembly Democrats have crafted a Blueprint for a Responsible Budget that will keep California on sound financial footing not just this budget year, but in the future as well.
Over the past several years, Legislative Democrats have made tough but necessary budget cuts. Voters approved the majority-vote budget, which removed the game playing and gridlock that had jeopardized California’s financial picture. And voters stood with Democrats in supporting temporary tax revenues to help fund our schools and avoid even deeper cuts.
Now, with the economic recovery finally taking hold, we can finally say: the era of new budget cuts and additional broad-based taxes is over.
What that really means is our hard work is just beginning. We must now pivot to strengthening our state, avoiding the mistakes of the past, and preventing the devastating impacts that economic downturns can have on our budget and the people of California.
The blueprint Assembly Democrats have crafted to achieve these goals and get California working again involves three key elements: continuing fiscal responsibility, strengthening the middle class, and delivering effective, efficient services for California.
Continuing Fiscal Responsibility
We must provide a balanced budget, not just for this year, but for every fiscal year in the forecast period.
We must accelerate the repayment of our budget debts. By accelerating repayment of budget debts we increase our budget stability and our ability to invest in our future.
The time has come to craft a real and workable Rainy Day Fund that captures one-time spiking revenues to be set aside for economic downturns.
Strengthening the Middle Class
Nothing is more critical to rebuilding the Middle Class than making sure our education system provides real opportunity for students in all California schools.
UC, CSU and Community Colleges need additional funding to make needed improvements to return California’s higher education system to pre-eminence while also modernizing to meet the changing times.
All students must be able to afford a college education without being strapped with debt that strangles them well into the future and hurts future economic growth. Funding the Middle Class Scholarship with General Fund revenues from Proposition 39 can slash student fees at UC and CSU by 40 percent.
Small businesses are playing a significant role in the economic recovery for California’s middle class families, but more must be done to stimulate small business development and expansion.
New ideas must be developed to spur lasting local economic development strategies. Without returning to past programs that at times led to unaccountable and wasteful spending, local governments need the tools to improve their local economies.
Strengthening recent Welfare to Work changes will ensure taxpayer dollars are spent wisely and efficiently, giving struggling families a real hand up to help rejoin the workforce and the Middle Class.
Delivering Effective, Efficient Services for Californians
The Secretary of State must reach the new goal, established by the Assembly, of processing business filing forms within five days, instead of the historic levels of over 60 days. This ensures small businesses won’t be waiting for months before they can hire employees or open for business.
The Department of Public Health often takes as long as eight weeks to process “exporting licenses” for perishable goods. These licenses must also be approved within five days, so California perishable exports can get to their destination on time and the state’s exporting businesses can prosper.
Local Coastal Programs (LCPs) need to be updated. Currently, 115 out of 128 LCPs are either 20 or more years out of date, or have never been certified by the Coastal Commission, which means all projects in these areas must go all the way to the Commission for approval.
Once the Coastal Commission approves updated LCPs, consistent development approval can be done more quickly at the local level without costly and time consuming additional review.
Increasing funding for County Veterans Services Officers to outreach to veterans will increase enrollment in state and federal programs that will improve their lives and strengthen local communities.
Embedding state staff in the three regional federal Veteran Benefit Administration offices will expedite the processing of veteran disability benefit claims. These state “Strike Force” teams will ensure benefits are approved faster and California veterans will receive the needed benefits – which they have earned – as soon as possible.
Funding for courts must be preserved to ensure Californians have adequate access to necessary court services, but the funding must come with strong accountability and reporting requirements to provide better management and to ensure critical court services and access are preserved.
As California’s budget process moves into high gear next week with the Governor’s May budget revision and the Legislature’s work to pass a final budget by June 15, these are some of the issues Assembly Democrats will be focusing on to make sure our state takes the critical steps we need for our schools, small businesses, safety net, higher education, courts and other key areas that have been harmed during the Great Recession.
SACRAMENTO—In a speech to the Sacramento Press Club, Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles) today unveiled the Blueprint for a Responsible Budget, Assembly Democrats’ plan for continuing fiscal responsibility, strengthening the middle class and delivering effective, efficient services for Californians.
“A rebounding economy, years of difficult cuts approved by legislative Democrats, and the voters trusting state leaders with a majority-vote budget and a temporary tax increase have brought the state to budget stability,” Speaker Pérez said. “We must now maintain that stability while pivoting to strengthen our state, avoid mistakes of the past, and minimize the devastating impacts economic downturns can have on our budget and the people of California. The Blueprint for a Responsible Budget may be outside Democrats’ traditional comfort zone, but it helps us achieve these important goals for California.”
The Blueprint for a Responsible Budget is based on the following three interrelated principles:
Continuing Fiscal Responsibility – the state must pay down debt, provide a prudent reserve, and craft a workable Rainy Day Fund that protects against future economic downturns.
Strengthening the Middle Class – schools and higher education must give everyone a fair shot at the middle class, small businesses must be strengthened, and there must be a functional safety net that gets people back on their feet and contributing members of our economy.
Delivering Effective, Efficient Services for Californians– wasteful red tape and bureaucratic delays must be eliminated for businesses, veterans, and others working with government.
“During the past few difficult years long-term fiscal planning has waned, the middle class has suffered, and governmental services have in some cases deteriorated and become inefficient,” Speaker Pérez said. “The Blueprint for a Responsible Budget will help us address those problems as we craft the state budget in the critical weeks after we get the updated economic figures from the Governor’s May Budget Revision.”
Click here for a summary of the Blueprint for a Responsible Budget follows.
Speaker Pérez Releases Assembly Democrats "Blueprint for a Responsible Budget"
(Sacramento) - In a speech to the Sacramento Press Club, Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles) unveiled the Blueprint for a Responsible Budget, the Assembly Democrats' plan for continuing fiscal responsibility, strengthening the middle class and delivering effective, efficient services for Californians. "A rebounding economy, years of difficult cuts approved by legislative Democrats, and the voters trusting state leaders with a majority-vote budget and a temporary tax increase have brought the state to budget stability," Speaker Pérez said. "We must now maintain that stability while pivoting to strengthen our state, avoid mistakes of the past, and minimize the devastating impacts economic downturns can have on our budget and the people of California."
Remarks from Speaker Pérez at today's event. (1:55) mp3
Speaker Pérez says the Blueprint for a Responsible Budget is not a line by line budget but rather a prism to view budget choices through. (:25) mp3
Speaker Pérez says the Blueprint for a Responsible Budget is a framework to begin budget discussions. (:22) mp3
Speaker Pérez says new taxes are not part of the Blueprint for a Responsible Budget. (:14) mp3
SACRAMENTO – The Assembly Agriculture Committee unanimously passed Assembly Bill 38 by Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles), which is an effort to ensure every California child has access to healthy and nutritious food by creating the Office of Farm to Fork in the Department of Food & Agriculture. The new office will be tasked with promoting access to healthy, California grown foods in underserved communities by bringing public health officials, agriculture industry leaders and educators together to make sure California’s children receive nutritious meals.
“Fruits and vegetables with the ‘California Grown’ label are known for their quality throughout the world, and Californians—especially kids—should have the proverbial first bite at the apple when it comes to the nutritious and healthy food grown in our state,” said Speaker Pérez. “Rural and urban communities throughout California do not have reliable access to quality, nutritious food that helps improve their health and quality of life, and this legislation will help to address this critical, if often overlooked, issue.”
AB 38 expands on the Speaker’s previous legislation, AB 581, which established the California Healthy Foods Financing Initiative, a program intended to eradicate food deserts — large geographic areas with little to no access to affordable, quality, healthy foods — and increase access to healthy and nutritious foods.
Residents of “food deserts” have disproportionally higher incidences of diabetes, cancer, obesity, heart disease and premature death than people living in areas with access to health foods. Speaker Pérez’s efforts have received strong bipartisan support in the past, including today’s unanimous approval of AB 38.
The bill will next be heard by the Assembly Appropriations Committee.
SACRAMENTO – The Veterans Housing and Homeless Prevention Act, authored by Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles) passed the Assembly Veterans Affairs Committee today, 8-0. Assembly Bill 639 provides California’s voters with the opportunity to repurpose $600 million in existing veterans’ bond funds to respond more effectively to the housing needs of today’s veteran population and their families.
“As citizens of this state and country, it is our basic obligation to stand up for the men and women who have devoted their lives to protecting our nation,” said Speaker Pérez. “This legislation gives Californians the chance to make sure that the people who have served in our military—who have sacrificed for their country—will not have to worry about where they and their family will sleep.”
Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez presenting AB 639 to the Assembly Veteran Affairs Committee on April 30, 2013.
The Act focuses on providing housing for veterans that are homeless, at-risk for homelessness, and in need of services such as mental health counseling, substance abuse treatment, job training, physical rehabilitation, and unemployment assistance. AB 639 expands on proven and cost-effective supportive housing and service models that will reduce veterans’ homelessness, leverage public and private dollars, and decrease other public costs (e.g. health care and incarceration expenditures).
“The Veterans Housing and Homeless Prevention Act, by leveraging about $3 billion in private, local, and federal investment, will ensure that thousands of our most vulnerable veterans can get off and stay off the streets by using existing California resources,” said Deb DeSantis, Corporation for Supportive Housing’s President and CEO. “CSH applauds the Speaker's leadership on helping to end homelessness among veterans in California through this critical bill.”
AB 639 also focuses on creating housing that is affordable for veterans returning from service. According to the California Association of Veteran Service Agencies, “Thousands of young veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are returning and trying to re-enter the job market and often finding themselves staying with a relative or ‘couch surfing’ because they can’t afford housing. Funding made available through Assembly Bill 639 will offer these veterans the dignity of safe, supportive, and affordable housing.”
More than $1 billion of voter-approved funds has been put aside for single family homes and farms, while the need for multifamily housing has greatly increased.
Almost two million veterans live in California, more than any other state in the nation, and 25 percent of homeless veterans live in California. If AB 639 passes, California will be at the forefront of the country’s efforts to end veteran homelessness by 2015.
Opening remarks from Speaker Pérez at the Veterans Affairs Committee hearing on AB 639. (3:11) mp3
Speaker Pérez says its time for the state to help the huge number homeless veterans in California. (:11) mp3
Speaker Pérez explains how AB 639 will help homeless veterans. (:23) mp3
SACRAMENTO – The California Assembly today passed Assembly Bill 113, legislation designed to end the backlog of business filing forms at the Secretary of State’s office and requiring the state to process the forms in no more than five business days by November 2013. The bill passed the Assembly 60 - 5, and now it heads for Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk.
“I applaud the efforts taken by my colleagues in the Assembly for passing this important legislation in a quick and bipartisan manner,” said Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles). “Every day a business waits for its paperwork to be processed, the owners are prevented from hiring workers, selling goods to customers and helping California stay on a path to economic recovery.”
More than 122,000 business related filings are waiting to be processed by the Secretary of State. Last year, at the direction of Speaker Pérez, the Assembly transferred $1.2 million from savings in its operating budget to dramatically reduce a backlog that had reached over 80 days, but the backlogs returned, causing a two month delay before businesses could open to the public and hire employees.
AB 113 will give additional funding to the Secretary of State to tackle the backlogged business filings, and it will increase the Secretary of State’s budget by $1.6 million to ensure that the new five day business filing standard is met.
SACRAMENTO – Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles) appointed Mark Vargas to the California Coastal Commission, effective today.
"California's coast is one of our most important environmental and economic assets," said Speaker Pérez. "Mr. Vargas will provide an important voice in the Commission's ongoing work to ensure the sustainability of this vital resource."
Vargas, 36, was the Speaker's appointee to the Little Hoover Commission. He resigned from that post yesterday.
A United States Green Building Council LEED Accredited Professional, he is the President of Mission Infrastructure, a project management firm which serves both government and private agencies in Los Angeles and San Bernardino. The company recently completed a community mitigation fund project with the Port of Los Angeles, American Lung Association, and the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Vargas also is Chairman of the Los Angeles Unified School District's Personnel Commission. He was previously the Southern California Director for the Secretary of State. Vargas also served as a Special Assistant to Governor Gray Davis for four years. In the Governor's Office, he helped attract life-sciences interests in the state, and he served as a liaison to the Mexican government.
The California Coastal Commission is composed of 12 voting members who are appointed in equal number by the Governor, the Senate Rules Committee and the Speaker of the Assembly. Vargas replaces William A. Burke, who resigned earlier this month. Vargas's appointment will last until May 20, 2015.
What Others Are Saying About the Appointment…
Natural Resources Defense Council Staff Attorney Adrian Martinez:
"Mark has a history of bringing diverse voices together on complex issues. He will bring new energy to this vital commission protecting California's treasured coast. We expect his experience from leading community programs at the Port of Los Angeles will serve him well at the state level and congratulate him on this appointment."
Heal the Bay Science and Policy Director Sarah Sikich:
"We've been pleased with the Speaker's previous appointments. The Coastal Commission is a critical decision-making body on the many issues that face California's coast from to climate change to habitat protection. We look forward to working with Mr. Vargas to ensure that our coast remains healthy and accessible for all."
California League of Conservation Voters CEO Sarah Rose:
"The Speaker has been a great leader on coastal protection and we extend our thanks for the appointment of Mark Vargas to the California Coastal Commission. Vargas' experience suggests that he will work as a commissioner committed to protecting our coastal resources for all Californians."
SACRAMENTO – Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles) released the following statement regarding today’s announcement by the Department of Toxic Substances Control to order the Exide Battery Recycling Plant cease operations immediately due to environmental hazards:
"Today's announcement by the Department of Toxic Substances Control that they have ordered the shutdown of Exide Battery recycling facility is a major victory for the residents and workers of the Southeast Communities. This has been an issue of great concern to the residents of the Southeast communities, and I have urged DTSC to look into this issue. I am deeply grateful for their action as the continued operation of this facility represents an enormous public health risk in an area that already has too many sources of pollution, and by shutting down this facility, we are removing a major threat to the health and well-being of the communities of the Southeast."
Speaker Toni Atkins, District 78
“Small businesses are so important to California’s economy that we need to be creative in helping these job-creators start and succeed.”
Assemblymember Rob Bonta, District 18
“California must lead the way in understanding and improving opportunities for boys and young men of color. The success of our state and nation is inextricably tied to the success of this growing population.”
Assemblymember Richard Gordon, District 24
“The Affordable Care Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of health status. However, many patient groups see their medications which treat their specific condition on the highest-cost tier. These discriminatory benefit designs cannot remain.”
Assemblymember Roger Hernández, District 48
“District-based elections benefit voters by ensuring that every community is represented on their city council. This in turn, makes an equitable distribution of resources more likely. Every voter will know which council member they can petition and hold accountable.”
Assemblymember Jose Medina, District 61
“There are stark disparities in the funding at the most diverse UC campuses; with the highest minority enrollment campuses receiving the least amount of funding. UC Riverside is recognized as serving the most minority students, along with UC Merced, UC Santa Barbara and UC Santa Cruz. It is important to find a fairer way to distribute funding within the UC system.”
Assemblymember Shirley Weber, District 79
“This abusive practice of last-minute scheduling hobbles workers who are taking the initiative to support themselves, and requires taxpayer subsidy in the form of greater need for public assistance for those who cannot. These workers need scheduling far enough in advance to work those other jobs, to arrange childcare and transportation, and to pursue education and training.”