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.
“AB 484 is the right educational policy at the right time, and California is the right state to lead this forward.”
Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla with Governor Jerry Brown and State Superintendent Tom Torlakson at today’s signing ceremony for AB 484 (Bonilla), which moves California to new student testing system.
(Sacramento) – Assembly Bill 484, legislation authored by Assemblywoman Susan A. Bonilla (D-Concord), was signed into law today by Governor Jerry Brown.
“This is one of the most important and revolutionary changes to education policy, and California is the right state to lead the way. With this new law, our schools can move away from outdated STAR tests and prepare students and teachers for better assessments that reflect the real world knowledge needed for young people to succeed in college and careers,” said Assemblywoman Susan A. Bonilla (D-Concord).
“Supporting a transition plan for the new state assessment system is just common sense. Our current testing system is limited measuring only rote memorization of facts, but the new assessments will actually measure how students apply knowledge and solve complex problems,” said David Rattray, senior vice president of the education and workforce division at the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce. “As co-sponsors of this bill, we know that this is what the business community needs in order to have a trained and skilled workforce that will allow us to compete in a global market.”
“California now has the chance to allow more students and schools to get a chance to test drive these new, computer-based assessments, and we need to take advantage of that opportunity,” said State Board of Education President Michael Kirst.
AB 484 was sponsored by the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, and supported by Assembly and Senate leaders, businesses, school administrators, teachers, parents and, most importantly, students. It enables California to successfully transition to the next generation of school assessments. This bill suspends many of the statewide assessments beginning in 2013-14 and implements new assessments aligned to the Common Core State Standards in English and math beginning in 2014-15.
Assemblywoman Bonilla says AB 484 will eliminate the STAR test and replace it with a new assessment system. (:26)
Assemblywoman Bonilla says the new testing system is needed because California’s educational standards have changed. (:25)
Assemblywoman Bonilla explains the AB 484 will mean teachers will have more time to teach. (:22)
Assemblywoman Bonilla explains why the state moved to the new Common Core Education Standards. (:23)
Assemblywoman Susan A. Bonilla was first elected to the Assembly in November 2010, and represents California's 14th Assembly District, which is comprised of the north and central portions of Contra Costa County and southern portion of Solano County.
CONTACT: Dan Okenfuss, (916) 319-2014, Dan.Okenfuss@asm.ca.gov
(SACRAMENTO)—Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 60 by Assemblymember Luis Alejo (D-Salinas) into law today at the Los Angeles City Hall. This measure grants the opportunity for undocumented immigrants to apply for a driver’s license. AB 60 will increase road safety by ensuring that all drivers are properly trained, pass the DMV driving test, know our state traffic laws, and are insured.
“I am proud to have authored a historic measure for the state of California. I want to commend the Governor for understanding the reality faced by 1.4 million unlicensed drivers who have waited for nearly two decades to have an opportunity to drive to work without fear,” states Alejo. “With AB 60 we are recognizing the needs of many hard-working immigrants living here and contributing so much to our great state. Immigrants who drive legally are more likely to work, spend and contribute to the economy. And those with driver's licenses will have more job opportunities available to them, which will boost businesses in the state.”
Los Angeles City Councilmember and former Senator Gil Cedillo worked on this historic legislation for over a decade. He states, "Today marks an important day in history, and ends a long chapter of fighting for the public safety of all drivers on our roads. I applaud our State Legislators and Governor for doing the right thing in understanding the significance and impact this bill will have on the millions of undocumented workers who simply want to feel safe driving to and from work.”
“The Governor’s signature on AB60 opens a window of opportunity unfairly closed shut to millions of Californians in 1993. The state legislature recognizes a driver’s license makes our roads safer and offers a practical tool for any Californian, regardless of immigration status, that can be used to conduct everyday tasks that greatly contribute to our state’s growth,” states Angelica Salas, Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA) Executive Director.
Earlier this month, Governor Brown indicated strong support for the measure. He stated in a press release, “This bill will enable millions of people to get to work safely and legally. Hopefully, it will send a message to Washington that immigration reform is long past due.”
“This legislation will assure that all persons who drive in California are licensed, have insurance, and are subject to enforcement of California’s driving laws,” states Kim Raney, President of the California Police Chiefs Association. “Assembly Bill 60 also provides for needed identification security which will enable those charged with limiting access to secure locations to make the appropriate inquiry of anyone presenting a driver’s license to obtain such access.”
AB 60 passed the Legislature last month with a historic bipartisan vote in both the Assembly and the Senate.
Luis Alejo represents the 30th District in the California State Assembly, which consists of the Salinas Valley, Monterey County, San Benito County, South Santa Clara County and the city of Watsonville in Santa Cruz County.
SACRMENTO – Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles) was awarded the California Golden Bear Award by the California Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States' (CAL EANGUS) yesterday in recognition for his efforts on behalf of the “Work for Warriors” program, which has helped tackle the issue of unemployment among the almost 20,000 California National Guard members.
“I am deeply honored to receive the California Golden Bear Award,” said Speaker Pérez. “Our most basic obligation as citizens is to stand up for the men and women who have served our nation in the military, and who stand prepared to assist California during natural disasters or other major emergencies, and I have been very grateful for the opportunity to work with the California National Guard on ensuring California’s veterans have access to jobs, healthcare and support services they deserve.”
Speaker Pérez has provided $1 million in Assembly grants to fund the National Guard’s “Work for Warriors” pilot program, which links unemployed National Guard members with participating employers, which has helped reduce the unemployment rate in the California National Guard by 25 percent in the first year.
Speaker Pérez and the Assembly also provided two $300,000 grants to the California Military Department for mental health services, which gave the California National Guard more resources to better support their members.
“I applaud CAL EANGUS for choosing Speaker Pérez for this prestigious award,” said Major General David S. Baldwin, the Adjutant General of the California National Guard. “The Speaker's unwavering support of Work for Warriors is responsible for making the program a success, and has improved the readiness of the California National Guard to respond to state emergencies.”
Speaker Pérez is also the author of the Veterans Housing and Homeless Prevention Bond Act of 2014, Assembly Bill 639, which will put California at the forefront of our nation’s efforts to end veteran homelessness by 2015 by expanding housing options for veterans, cost-effectively leveraging public dollars and reducing the number of homeless veterans. The bill passed the Legislature on September 11 and is waiting for the Governor’s signature.
In the state budget the Legislature and Governor this year also created state staff teams known as “Strike Forces” to be embedded in the three regional federal Veteran Benefit Administration offices, ensuring disability benefits are approved faster for California veterans.
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."