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.
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.”
Speaker Toni G. Atkins, District 78
“Immigrants helped build California, immigrants shape the California we know today, and immigrants will help propel California into the future. On behalf of my colleagues in the Assembly, I am proud to support Immigrant Heritage Month to honor the immigrants who are such an important part of our economy and culture.”
Assemblymember Kevin McCarty, District 7
"We owe it to our children and we owe it to the families across California, to ensure that children are ready to start school and be successful. AB 47 will ensure that we keep the promise made to our preschoolers last year and provide each of our low-income children access to quality preschool."
Assemblyman Rich Gordon, District 24
“This Supreme Court decision, which finds that states cannot prohibit same-sex marriage, is historic not only for the LGBT community, but also for all Americans who value fairness and equality. The institution of marriage provides over 1,000 legal and financial privileges. More importantly, it is a powerful symbol of a couple's love and commitment.”
Assemblymember Nora Campos, District 27
"I applaud the Supreme Court for turning back the attempt to undermine the ACA and upholding the tax credits to families who buy health insurance through the federal marketplace. I am confident that the ACA will continue to rein in the cost of health insurance and provide access for all Americans to the security of knowing that a doctor and medical assistance is within reach."
Assemblymember Das Williams, District 37
“I’m most interested in ensuring the UC and CSU systems are funded at a level that expands students’ enrollment; and that community colleges, maintain their increased funding. As a champion for higher education, I know it is imperative that new graduates are as prepared as possible to enter today’s modern, expanding workforce.”
Assemblymember Shirley Weber, District 79
“In addition to increasing funding for K-12 education by $8.2 billion, this budget makes sizeable investments in early education, higher education and student financial aid. Also included is the centerpiece of our efforts to reduce poverty - the Earned Income Tax Credit - that will help improve the financial stability and increase the buying power of 825,000 working families in California.”