“I thank my colleagues for the confidence they have placed in me and for this immense privilege to serve,” Rendon said. “We as policymakers have a great deal of work ahead of us to meet the challenges Californians demand we address.” Read More
Asm. Jim Frazier wrote AB 935 to improve the lives of CA veterans. AB 935 allows veterans to apply for a CA driver’s license or ID card with a designation that clearly identifies them as veterans Read More
Whether it's mudslides and flash floods induced by El Nino rains washing over drought parched California, wild fires or an earthquake, being prepared for an emergency disaster can make all the difference to you and your family Read More
LOS ANGELES—On the same day student loan interest rates have doubled due to Congress's failure to act, California is leading the way on college affordability as Gov. Edmund G. Brown, Jr. today signed the Middle Class Scholarship, landmark legislation by Speaker John A. Pérez that will dramatically cut college fees in California.
"While today’s deadline for Congress to pass legislation preventing federal student loan rates from doubling has passed, they still have the ability to take action so they don’t compound the already harmful situation where student loan debt now exceeds credit card debt in our country." Pérez said. "They should follow California’s lead and take that action to help keep college affordable."
In June, Speaker Pérez authored Assembly Joint Resolution 20, calling on Congress to prevent the student loan interest rates from doubling. It passed with overwhelming bipartisan support from the Assembly and state Senate.
The Middle Class Scholarship will cut tuition at UC and CSUs by 40 percent for California families making under $100,000 a year and 10 percent for families making under $150,000.
California universities have seen historically high fee hikes over the past 10 years with tuition rates increasing by over 190 percent at UCs and by about 145 percent at CSUs. Students at UCs and CSUs currently pay an annual tuition of $12,192 and $5,472 respectively. This legislation will dramatically lower the college fees to $7,315 at UCs and $3,283 at CSUs beginning in the 2014-15 school year for families making under $100,000 a year.
The state will increase spending on the Middle Class Scholarship each year until it is fully implemented in 2017-18, and it will be paid for through General Fund revenues.
Working with students and families from around the state, Speaker Pérez authored legislation last year to close a loophole that only benefitted out-of-state corporations and fund the Middle Class Scholarship. The Assembly passed that legislation on a bipartisan basis, but the bill died in the State Senate.
This year, the Middle Class Scholarship, Assembly Bill 94, received overwhelming bipartisan support in the Senate and the Assembly.
"This is a great victory for higher education and middle class families in California, and a huge first step in keeping college affordable," Speaker Pérez said. "For the past 10 years, the middle class has been increasingly squeezed out of our public universities because of skyrocketing tuition rates, forcing students to drop out of college or take on massive student debt that will negatively impact them for years, possibly decades. This legislation will ensure that California maintains a healthy middle class and an educated work force to keep our economy strong."
SACRAMENTO—During the California Budget Act signing today, Edmund G. Brown, Jr. signed legislation by Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles) that is a key element in implementing the federal Affordable Care Act and will expand Medi-Cal coverage to over 1 million low-income and uninsured Californians.
“Today marks a historic milestone for health care in our state and the nation,” Speaker Pérez said. “AB1X-1 is an important vehicle for California to fully partner with the federal government to expand health coverage to our lowest-income Californians. The Governor’s signature on this important legislation means our state will help ensure the health and well-being of more Californians, and it allows us to continue to be a model on health care reform for the rest of the nation.”
The legislation will expand Medi-Cal eligibility to over 1 million low-income people in the state and streamlines the eligibility and enrollment rules for Medi-Cal, creating new efficiencies and speeding the time by which applicants can receive coverage. The federal government will fund the health coverage expansion provided in the bill for the first three years and will continue to cover eventually 90 percent of the cost through President Obama’s Affordable Care Act.
California has been a leader in the nation for implementing healthcare reform since the legislation was first passed by Congress. In 2010, Speaker Pérez authored legislation creating California’s first-in-the-nation Health Benefits Exchange, a key provision of the ACA, which is known as Covered California.
Gov. Brown also signed SB 1X-1 by Sen. Ed Hernández (D-West Covina) and Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) expanding Medi-Cal services to include mental health and substance abuse issues.
SACRAMENTO – Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles) released the following statement regarding the United States Supreme Court declaring the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional and allowing same-sex couples to marry in California:
“This is a tremendous victory, not just for the LGBT Community, and not just for the large and growing majority of Americans who have embraced us, but a victory for justice itself,” said Speaker Pérez. “With the Court’s action, Judge Vaughn Walker’s decision is the law of the land in California, and that means that, for the first time in five years, LGBT Californians can walk the streets of California knowing that we are fully equal citizens in every respect.”
In February, Speaker Pérez joined with 22 legal scholars from across the nation to file an amicus brief in the case of Hollingsworth V. Perry, in opposition to Proposition 8. The brief stated that Proposition 8 also eliminated the ability of those seeking equal marriage rights to pursue those rights through their elected representatives. The brief argued that if a voter initiative can deny gay people access to traditional representative democratic processes, then in the state of California, any other small, historically disadvantaged minority group can also be denied the right to representation.
Speaker Pérez also played the part of Stanford Professor Gary Segura in a 2012 production of ‘8’ in San Francisco. Segura is an expert who testified about the pervasive underrepresentation of gays and lesbians in the political process, and the history of LGBT people being targeted by ballot initiative. This was a crucial element of the plaintiffs’ argument that Proposition 8 violated a number of important, long-standing tests for discrimination. Pro-Proposition 8 lawyers invoked Speaker Pérez’s name in cross-examining Segura, suggesting that his election as the first openly gay Speaker of a State Assembly somehow discredited the idea that gays and lesbians were politically targeted.
SACRAMENTO—The California State Senate overwhelmingly approved on a 35-1 vote Assembly Joint Resolution 20 by Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles), a resolution urging Congress to act swiftly to avoid allowing student loan interest rates from doubling. Under current federal law, Federal Direct Stafford Loan interest rates will jump to 6.8 percent from the present 3.4 percent on July 1, unless Congress passes legislation to avert the increase. AJR 20 passed the Assembly earlier this month, 70-1.
“Today’s vote tells Congress that California demands higher education be considered a priority, and that students need reasonable loan rates, instead of simply allowing more debt to be forced on this financially vulnerable population,” said Speaker Pérez. “The deadline for Congress to pass legislation preventing federal student loan rates from doubling is mere days away. AJR 20 calls on Congress to take immediate action so they don’t compound the already harmful situation where student loan debt now exceeds credit card debt in our country.”
California’s UC, CSU and Community College students have seen student fees skyrocket over the last ten years, resulting in many students graduating tens of thousands of dollars in debt. If interest rates rise on July 1, hundreds of thousands of California students with federal loans will see the cost of their education increase thousands of dollars over the life of the loan.
“Ensuring quality, affordable higher education for California’s is a smart investment in our economy—both short and long-term—and it’s the best way to preserve the California Dream,” Speaker Pérez said. “Congress must act now to prevent this potentially massive cost increase for higher education.”
SACRAMENTO—Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) and Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles) released a joint statement today regarding the Legislature’s actions on the California Public Records Act:
“We agree there needs to be both an immediate fix to ensure local entities comply with the California Public Records Act and a long term solution so the California Public Records Act is not considered a reimbursable mandate. Accordingly, the Senate will take up the amended SB 71 passed by the Assembly today that removed changes in the budget regarding the California Public Records Act. As the Senate advances its proposed constitutional amendment, the Assembly will work with them throughout its process to give voters the chance to make clear that good government shouldn’t come with an extra price tag.”
CONTACT: John Vigna (Pérez ) (916) 319-2408 Mark Hedlund (Steinberg) (916) 651-4188
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."