SACRAMENTO – Assemblymember Rob Bonta (D-Oakland), the first Filipino American elected to the California Legislature, held a joint press conference today with Senate President pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) and Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles) encouraging Californians to support Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda relief efforts. Representatives from the Sacramento Red Cross, CaliforniaVolunteers and the California Office of Emergency Services also participated in the event to help inform Californians on how they can help victims of the Super Typhoon. Deputy Consul General of the Philippine Consulate General in San Francisco Jaime Ramon T. Ascalon thanked Californians for their help during one of the worst storms in recorded history.
“As my Filipino brothers and sisters struggle to survive, locate their loved ones, and heal after this tragedy, I am encouraged that our state leaders, along with the rest of the country and world, are moved with empathy, concern, and a desire to help, and are turning those feelings into tremendous relief efforts,” Assemblymember Bonta said. “California is uniquely affected by the typhoon in that our state is home to the largest Filipino American population in the entire United States. There are approximately 1.5 million Filipino Americans in California; this represents 43 percent of the nation’s entire Filipino American population. Many came to the U.S. within the last decade and still have deep ties to the Philippines. I’m proud that our state leaders stand in solidarity in support of the relief efforts.”
“On behalf of the government and people of the Philippines, Consul General Marciano Paynor, Jr., thank you so very much for all of your efforts here in California toward providing relief for the Philippines,” Deputy Consul General Ascalon said. “The immediate response from Assemblymember Bonta, Speaker Perez, pro Tempore Steinberg and other officials and members of the community is yet another example of the true friendship our country has with California. It is great to see that when we are in need, California’s greatness, generosity and leadership is without hesitation.”
At the event, Speaker Pérez announced that the Assembly website will direct people to organizations helping to assist victims of Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda. The website, asmdc.org, also has links to help inform Californians on how to prepare for disasters here at home. Senator Steinberg’s website also has an informational link found here.
“As Californians, we have had our share of natural disasters,” Speaker Pérez said, “and we understand how horrific the cost can be—not just in dollars and cents, but in human terms. The photos and news reports have shown the devastation… And as with other recent massive disasters in Haiti and Japan, the people of California have been eager to respond.”
Senate pro Tempore Steinberg and Sacramento Red Cross representative Kathleen Weis informed people on what can be done locally for victims of the Typhoon.
“When we go about our daily lives and travails here at home, the stunning devastation suffered in the Philippines puts it all in perspective,” said Senate President pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg. “The California sprit is to ask what we can do to help and then to follow through. But recovery in such massive disasters will take years. What we cannot forget is that long after the news coverage wanes and the cameras are gone, the suffering and the need for help will remain for the victims of Typhoon Haiyan.”
“Typhoon Haiyan left a trail of devastation that is heartbreaking for the local community,” said Kathleen Weis, CEO for the Capital Region Chapter. “It is the generosity of our donors that help us to provide aid to those in need in the Philippines quickly so they can get the resources needed to recover from this tragedy. The American Red Cross is committed to help those affected.”
“Our hearts go out to those impacted by this devastating typhoon,” said Mark Ghilarducci, Director of the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services. “We are working with our counterparts in state and federal government to closely monitor the relief efforts and ensure California is ready to help,” said Ghilarducci. More information can be found at www.caloes.ca.gov.
LOS ANGELES - Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles) will be speaking at the Cinco Puntos All Wars Memorial in Boyle Heights on Veterans Day, where he will honor the service and sacrifice of California's veterans and reflect on the Assembly's legislation this year to support veterans.
"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," Speaker Pérez said. "I am proud to say that this year's legislative session has placed California at the forefront of our nation's efforts to assist veterans. We passed legislation that will allow voters to approve a measure supporting better housing options for veterans, helped reduce the unacceptable backlog of California veteran disability benefits claims, and we increased funding to county Veterans Service Offices for improved outreach for veterans.
There is, however, more work to be done. The men and women who put on the uniforms of our armed forces do so hoping their service and sacrifice means their families, friends and neighbors will all have the ability to enjoy life liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Our responsibility must be to ensure that after their service is over the lives of our veterans can go on as well."
The All Wars Memorial, which was originally constructed in 1947 to honor Mexican Americans who fought in wars on behalf of the United States, was vandalized in November 2012. Thieves made off with three bronze plaques, and attempted to take a fourth. Speaker Pérez presented replacement plaques for the vandalized the Cinco Puntos All Wars Memorial in March.
Speaker Pérez also will reiterate his intent to pursue AB 1268 in January. AB 1268 would establish the Veterans Workforce Development and Employment Office within the state Labor Agency, better coordinating and administering the state's veteran workforce development, outreach, and employment services operated by various federal, state and local agencies and departments.
California is home to the largest veteran population in the nation, and as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan wind down, the state is on the verge of seeing an annual return of 30,000 to 45,000 veterans returning home, making it imperative that there is better coordination and administration of the state's veteran employment agencies.
See below for actions taken by Speaker Pérez and the Assembly to support veterans from the 2013 Legislative year:
The Veterans Housing and Homeless Prevention Bond Act of 2014 – The Housing and Homeless Prevention Bond was signed into law by governor Brown on October 10, 2014. AB 639 seeks to repurpose $600 million of existing bond authority, subject to voter approval, from the state veteran single family farm and home loan program to construct and rehabilitate multifamily, transitional and supportive housing for homeless veterans and their families.
Claims Strike Forces – As a result of the Speaker's leadership, the 2013-14 state Budget Act includes an initiative that will allow the state to help the United States Department of Veterans Affairs reduce the backlog of California veteran disability benefit claims by providing funding for a new claims strike force of state employees. The funding increase from the budget, along with improved training from California Department of Veterans Affairs through its CVSO accreditation process, will improve the state's service to veterans and compliment the work of the claims strike forces.
County Veterans Service OfficesFunding Increase – To further assist veterans in filing claims and accessing veteran benefits and programs, $3 million was appropriated in the 2013-14 Budget Act to increase the state subvention for County Veteran Service Offices, who often represent the primary point of contact for veterans attempting to access their benefits.
SACRAMENTO – Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles) released the following statement today on the Department of Finance’s October Finance Bulletin showing that September was another strong month for California revenues:
“The latest report from the Department of Finance shows that revenues are exceeding the budget projections for the year by over $100 million. Coupled with our ending the 2012-13 fiscal year with $2.1 billion more than expected, this shows the California budget remains very strong. What we’ve accomplished shows what’s possible when you get past the kind of gridlock, hostage taking, and brinksmanship that is paralyzing progress in Washington, D.C., and when elected officials and the public show the willingness to support a balanced approach of tough cuts and new revenues to get things back on track.”
SACRAMENTO – Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr. today signed the Veterans Housing and Homeless Prevention Bond Act of 2014 by Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles), giving California voters in June 2014 the opportunity to repurpose already existing veteran housing funds for better housing options for today’s diverse and expanding veteran population.
“I am proud of the actions that the Governor and the Legislature have taken this year to tackle veterans’ homelessness in our state,” Speaker Pérez said. “Veterans have devoted their lives to the protection of our country and it is absolutely unacceptable when they cannot afford a place for them and their families to sleep. As citizens, it is our basic obligation to stand up for these men and women who have served our nation, and I look forward to seeing California voters approve this measure.”
AB 639 provides California 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. More than $1 billion of voter-approved funding has been set aside for single family homes and farms, while the need for multifamily, transitional and supportive housing has greatly increased. AB 639, backed by the California Association of Veteran Services Agencies and the Corporation for Supportive Housing, 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 such as health care and incarceration expenditures.
“In the past California voters have said we should help honor our commitment to veterans by helping them with their housing needs,” said Stephen Peck, USMC Vietnam veteran, President of U.S.VETS and the California Association of Veteran Service Agencies, one of the leading advocates for the legislation. “Old approaches to housing can’t meet the needs of today’s veterans. AB 639 recognizes that and gives voters a chance to fix it. I know veterans across California thank Speaker Pérez for his leadership on our issues and we thank Governor Brown for signing this smart and compassionate bill.”
“Every year in California more than 32,000 veterans suffer deteriorating health, repeated incarceration, and worsening mental conditions because they are homeless,” said Sharon Rapport, Corporation for Supportive Housing Associate Director for California Policy. “They cost our state and local governments almost $3,000 a month in response to repeated crises. Using existing bond authority to create over 10,000 affordable places to live, AB 639 will leverage $3 billion in private and federal funds, will make a crucial commitment to move chronically homeless veterans into housing with services—supportive housing—and will save the lives of veterans now struggling to survive life on the street. For these reasons, we are incredibly grateful to Speaker Pérez for his passionate pursuit of this bill, and to Governor Brown for his insight that investing in supportive housing for homeless veterans makes sense.”
California has the largest veteran population in the US, with almost two million veterans calling California home—a number which is expected to rise by over 200,000 when the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq wind down. California also has more homeless veterans than any other state, with 25 percent of homeless veterans in the nation residing in the state. If voters approve of the initiative next year, California will be at the forefront of the nation’s efforts to end veteran homelessness by 2015.
The bill signing took place at Veterans Village of San Diego, where over 2,000 military veterans are served each year throughout the county of San Diego. It is nationally recognized as the leader in serving homeless military veterans, and has served veterans since 1981 with the dedication to “Leave No One Behind.” Joining in the ceremony were Assembly Majority Leader Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) and Assembly Veterans Committee Chair Al Muratsuchi (D-Torrance), Principal Co-Authors of AB 639, who have both made ending homelessness among veterans a priority.
SACRAMENTO—Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles) today announced that the new Assembly Select Committee on Justice Reinvestment will hold the first in a series of hearings on Monday, October 21 in Sacramento.
Speaker Pérez established the Select Committee on Justice Reinvestment to guide the Assembly’s efforts to work with the Governor in finding solutions to the state’s longtime criminal justice and prison challenges.
“The Select Committee on Justice Reinvestment will investigate whatever might work: updating sentencing laws, strengthening effective local approaches, and improving education and programs that break the cycle of poverty,” Speaker Pérez said. “The Committee’s goal will be real data-based, long-term solutions that will help us stop spending excessive money on prisons and allow us to focus more on investments that grow our economy and provide opportunity.”
Assemblymember Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) and Assemblymember Reginald Byron Jones-Sawyer, Sr. (D-Los Angeles) will Co-Chair the Committee.
The members of the Select Committee on Justice Reinvestment are:
Assemblymember Raul Bocanegra (D-Pacoima)
Assemblymember Cheryl R. Brown (D-San Bernardino)
Assemblymember Rocky J. Chávez (R-Oceanside)
Assemblymember Jeff Gorell (R-Camarillo)
Assemblymember Melissa A. Melendez (R-Lake Elsinore)
Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi (D-Torrance)
Assemblymember V. Manuel Pérez (D-Coachella)
Assemblymember Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley)
Assemblymember Mark Stone (D-Monterey Bay)
Assemblymember Marie Waldron (R-Escondido)
Assemblymember Shirley N. Weber (D-San Diego)
The Committee’s first hearing on October 21 will provide a thorough overview of the problems facing the state and factors that have led to the current situation, while looking at fiscal impacts and potential new directions. Subsequent hearings will focus on the costs, benefits and logistics surrounding applying various solutions in California that have been successfully implemented in other jurisdictions and the effectiveness of the state’s current efforts regarding inmates and parolees.
Future topics include pre-incarceration diversion and sentencing, programming during incarceration, preparing for re-entry in the final months of prison and post-release, and non-corrections based solutions.
Keep California Moving – Fix the Roads Roundtable (Fresno)
Speaker Atkins Joins Business, Labor and Local Leaders to Keep California Moving
Assembly Speaker Toni G. Atkins discussing California’s transportation issues at Fresno press conference.
FRESNO—Assembly Speaker Toni G. Atkins and a large coalition of local government officials, business leaders and transportation advocates today provided an update on the Legislature’s special session on transportation infrastructure. They emphasized the reasons why new infrastructure funding is vital to keep California moving.
“The Central Valley is vital to California’s economy, and fixing our infrastructure is vital to the Central Valley,” said Speaker Atkins (D-San Diego). “Many Valley communities and businesses are dependent on the lifelines provided by Highway 99 and Highway 5. They need to be kept in good shape. That’s why we are working closely with the state’s local elected officials and business community to ensure we can enact real solutions to the state’s transportation problems in this special session of the Legislature.”
“It’s fundamental that California be able to move goods and people in a modern, efficient way,” said Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr., who called for a special session on transportation funding in June. “The problem is clear and we’re going to find the right path forward. The potholes don’t wait, the congestion doesn’t wait.”
A study by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute found that peak-commute drivers in Fresno waste 23 hours a year sitting in traffic, resulting in an estimated cost of $495 per driver. More than 75% of motorists in Fresno County drive their own cars instead of taking public transportation, and that takes a heavy toll on the roads.
“Some of the roads in Stanislaus County are literally crumbling under my tires, and the Seventh Street Bridge in Modesto needs basic maintenance so badly it is no longer safe for heavy trucks and busses,” said Vito Chiesa, president of the California State Association of Counties and a Stanislaus County supervisor. “Reforms and accountability measures are needed to ensure taxpayer dollars are going toward transportation, but it is an indisputable fact that we need new revenues to address the severe maintenance backlog of our local streets and roads. I urge lawmakers from both sides of the aisle in Sacramento to find a workable solution. The longer we wait, the more it’s going to cost when we do finally fix our roads.”
Fixing all our roads now would cost more than $100 billion, but waiting 10 years would push the cost to nearly $300 billion. Every dollar invested in transportation infrastructure produces $5.20 in economic benefit, and every $1 billion that gets spent on transportation infrastructure leads to roughly 18,000 jobs.
Darius Assemi, Granville Homes President and CEO and California Transportation Commission Commissioner, added, “We need more revenue along with reforms to ensure Californians’ tax dollars are spent wisely, and solely used for transportation purposes to fix our deteriorating roads.”
Transportation funding has not kept pace with the state’s aging infrastructure. Most of the funding comes from gasoline excise taxes, which have not kept up with inflation. California collects 30 cents per gallon, a value that hasn’t increased in 25 years and, in fact, decreased by 6 cents in July. This means that the purchasing power of today’s excise tax is at an all-time low. Increased fuel-efficiency standards allow cars to travel more miles with less gas, also generating fewer gas-tax dollars to fix the roads.
According to multiple studies in recent years, California faces numerous transportation problems:
California has the second-highest share of roads in “poor condition” in the nation. More than half of our state roads need rehabilitation or pavement maintenance.
Our state has six of the 10 cities with the worst road conditions in the nation.
Nearly 1/3 of our bridges and overpasses show signs of deterioration, or do not meet design standards.
Nearly 70% of California’s urban roads and highways are congested.
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.”
“It appears the University of California is moving in the right direction to enroll more California students—and that’s great news. When the Assembly conducted our in-depth review of the University of California this year, it was clear that the university can and should do a better job fulfilling its mission to educate California students. That’s why we included an additional $25 million for UC if it enrolls 5,000 more Californians.”
“By expanding public restroom accommodations, people with physical disabilities and their families and friends are given the dignity and comfort to go about their daily lives. These rudimentary human necessities are imperative for the health and well-being of our disabled community.”
“This bill brings California’s election recount process into the 21st century. Elections are a fundamental democratic principle and we must make every effort to ensure their integrity. I believe AB 44, will do just that.”
“I remember the challenges that I had when I was a new mother myself. As a mother I could not imagine what life would be like to not have the opportunity to care and nurture for my own child. It is only right that we give foster youth who are parents the ability to care for their child while maintaining the principals of keeping families together.”
As Chair of the Assembly Higher Education Committee, I know the importance of college affordability and safety. We must ensure students are provided with safe learning environments. In addition, students need transparency in higher education costs in order to make informed financial decisions for college."
"We know that students in foster care are more likely to achieve their full potential when they are provided services designed to meet their particular needs. It's imperative that foster youth get the support and resources they need to succeed academically."