SACRAMENTO - The Los Angeles Times published an editorial today supportive of the Assembly Democrats' Blueprint for a Responsible Budget, announced by Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles) and Budget Committee Chair Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) on Wednesday.
The editorial, "Don't go wild with the budget surplus, Sacramento," while cautious with projected revenue figures, acknowledges the reserve and paying down debt that is included in the Assembly Democrats' Blueprint:
"Top Assembly Democrats have revealed what they'd like to do with billions of dollars in extra tax revenue that the state is projected to receive, and their top priorities were reassuring: expanding the reserve fund and paying down the debts that Sacramento accumulated over the last decade. Their budget blueprint also calls for a lot of new spending on education and anti-poverty programs, however.
….Released by Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles) and Assembly Budget Chairwoman Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley), the blueprint is built on the bullish revenue and spending projections that Legislative Analyst Mac Taylor released last month. Taylor expects the state's slowly improving economy to generate much more in income taxes (particularly capital gains levies) and property taxes over the coming decade than the Brown administration predicted. In fact, Taylor projects that the multibillion-dollar surpluses will continue even after the temporary tax increases that voters approved in 2012 elapse in three to five years.
That's just a prediction, and lawmakers know all too well how quickly the state's finances can shift from boom to bust. The blueprint starts by calling for Sacramento to build up $8 billion in reserves - roughly five times the amount in the most recent budget - within three fiscal years. Some of that money would be used to pay debts state government racked up to make ends meet, and some to address unfunded retiree obligations. The rest would go into an expanded rainy-day fund designed to buffer the state against the gyrations in revenue."
SACRAMENTO – Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles) and Assembly Budget Committee Chair Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) released the 2014 Blueprint for a Responsible Budget yesterday, highlighting priorities Assembly Democrats will focus on in upcoming budget deliberations to ensure stability and expand opportunity in the state. Here is what people are saying about it so far.
California Community Colleges Vice Chancellor Dan Troy:
“After years of disinvestment in higher education caused by a severe economic downturn, the Chancellor's Office welcomes the recognition by Speaker Perez that California community colleges play a central role in the economic vibrancy of our state. Enhanced funding support for community colleges can help restore access to courses and enhance student success for those served at our 112 colleges. This is good news for students, the workforce and for all Californians.”
California State University Chancellor Timothy P. White:
“The California State University (CSU) is very encouraged by the 2014-15 Budget Blueprint unveiled today by the Speaker and the Assembly Democratic Caucus that prioritizes higher education funding to expand opportunities for students and bolster the quality of educational programs. Each year, the CSU turns away more than 20,000 fully eligible students. With a continued investment in the CSU, the university is poised to serve more students and expand high-impact teaching practices that advance degree completion. The university looks forward to reviewing this proposal in more detail, and is committed to working with the Governor and Legislature through the budget process.”
University of California Vice President Patrick Lenz:
“We are very encouraged. After years of declining state support during the economic recession, we welcome legislative initiatives to help meet the current and future needs of California by supporting the vital mission of our public university system. Increased state funding beyond a 5 percent base budget increase will address enrollment growth – potentially adding an additional 2,200 freshmen and community college transfers – and the urgent need to reinvest in the academic quality of the University. We thank the speaker for his support of the proposals outlined in our 2014-15 budget request and welcome further collaboration to help keep UC accessible, affordable and academically excellent. This is a promising development for the University of California and, in the long run, for all of California.”
Early Edge California President Catherine Atkin:
“2014 is poised to become a momentous year for early learning. With a powerful body of research, increasing public support, an improving economy and elected officials like Speaker Pérez taking a stand, our youngest learners are a top priority.
We are extremely encouraged by the Assembly Speaker and Assembly Democrats’ commitment to expanding transitional kindergarten to serve all 4 year olds, as well as strengthening early care and education programs serving children from birth through 3 years old. This is an historic opportunity to improve education for California’s youngest learners.
Now is the time to ensure all of California’s children have the strong foundation they need to succeed in school and beyond. Early Edge California is committed to working with our legislators and Governor Brown to make this dream of giving all children the opportunity to succeed in school a reality.”
Executive Director for Health Access California Anthony Wright:
“The Assembly leadership is appropriately looking at restoring the worst of the cuts that were slashed during the budget crisis. It would be financially irresponsible not to revisit and restore some of the cuts made during the depth of the recession, including those that can draw down more federal matching funds.”
County Welfare Directors Association of California Executive Director Frank Mecca:
“We commend Speaker John Pérez and the Assembly Democratic Caucus for highlighting the crisis of millions of children living in poverty across our communities, and outlining effective and practical ways we can improve their lives. Child poverty is a terrible plague that haunts children and families for generations. Mountains of research have conclusively proven that children who suffer the trauma of economic insecurity, destitution, hunger and homelessness too often become adults who deal with the same challenges. We see this every day in our schools and county human service offices.
Clearly, children and families pay the ultimate price for poverty, but our economy suffers too – staggering costs to health, social services and corrections, and billions of dollars annually in lost productivity. And despite California’s improving economy, we have the highest child poverty rate in the country. That’s why we applaud the Speaker and Caucus for identifying strategic, research-supported approaches – such as the Earned Income Tax Credit and adequate child care and employment training support – that can be implemented while prudently building a reserve and paying down debt.
Anti-poverty strategies are critical to achieving the goal of long-term economic health for our communities and our state. We look forward to collaborating with the Speaker and Legislature on proposals for the 2014-15 State Budget.”
Service Employees International Union (SEIU) President Laphonza Butler:
“After years of austerity budgets that led California in the wrong direction, we are encouraged to see a turn-around plan for our state that prioritizes the critical investments we need today so our state can thrive tomorrow.
Improving Medi-Cal access is a smart use of health care dollars that puts the focus on keeping Californians healthy and reducing chronic care costs. Giving working families tax relief and supporting parents as they transition from welfare to work represent a strong economic boost for our state.
Most importantly, this budget plan recognizes that when it comes to building a strong state for the future, we’re all in this together. The Speaker’s plan wisely invests in educating our children from pre-school through college. Long overdue investments in early childhood education are the foundation needed to ready young minds to absorb their K-12 studies and beyond, while reducing the social costs of poor educational attainment.
SEIU members stepped forward when our state needed us, enduring painful cuts to the services we provide to our communities, and volunteering our time and resources to pass Prop. 30 to secure the revenues needed to stop the cuts and invest in our future. We applaud the Speaker and Assemblymember Skinner’s forward-looking vision and look forward to working with them to flesh out the blueprint in our effort to address our communities’ needs. As the budget process moves forward, Californians can count on us to be champions for smart public services, such as home care, that save money even while improving lives, and for investment in the next generation.”
SEIU – United Healthcare Workers President Dave Regan:
“This is an important and commendable position that the Assembly Democrats have staked out today and, if passed, California patients will be the true beneficiaries and have greater access to quality care.”
California Medical Association President Richard Thorp, M.D:
“The forecasted budget surplus, along with today’s announcement from Assembly Democrats, gives us hope that California will stop balancing the budget at the expense of patients who need care the most but have the hardest time getting it. California has the lowest Medicaid reimbursement rates in the country – and a commitment to restore cuts made in 2011 will help increase access for the millions of new patients eligible for health care coverage under federal reform.”
California Hospital Association CEO Duane Dauner:
“California’s patients will be better served by this blueprint. Restoring funding to Medi-Cal will increase access to care at a time when patients need it most – this is truly an investment in the health and future of our state.”
For more information on the 2014 Blueprint for a Responsible Budget, visit http://asmdc.org and click on the Blueprint for a Responsible Budget button.
SACRAMENTO – To ensure stability and expand opportunity in California, Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles) and Assembly Budget Committee Chair Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) released the 2014 Blueprint for a Responsible Budget today, highlighting priorities Assembly Democrats will focus on in upcoming budget deliberations.
“By following this Budget Blueprint we can ensure fiscal stability in California by establishing a real rainy day fund and building the state’s budget reserve,” Speaker Pérez said. “We can also expand opportunity by making prudent investments in job creation, job training, early childhood education and higher education. With the budget process officially beginning next month, we believe it is helpful to the people of California to show some of the key priorities that will be shaping the discussion.”
The Speaker and Assemblymember Skinner said they planned to work closely with their legislative counterparts and the governor to approve a budget by the June 15 constitutional deadline. The governor’s initial budget proposal is slated to be released next month.
“This blueprint makes prudent use of one-time funds, pays down the debt and helps create jobs,” Assemblymember Skinner said. “While restraint is necessary to not invite the next bust cycle, this plan addresses the needs of our poorest children, improves access to healthcare and gets cap and trade revenues reinvested in our communities. I look forward to the thorough public process that will happen in the months ahead.”
The 2014/2015 Blueprint is based on the following two principles, achieving stability and expanding opportunity. Some of the key areas in the 2014 Blueprint for a Responsible Budget are:
Crafting a real rainy day fund and building an $8 billion reserve to continue stability and prevent cycles of boom and bust.
Establishing Universal Transitional Kindergarten to ensure more California children have access to the best possible start for their time in school.
Funding Higher Education and Financial Aid by strengthening Cal Grants and expanding funding for UC and CSU to prevent further fee increases, expand enrollment and maintain quality.
Reducing Child Poverty to address the intolerable situation where one-fourth of California children live in poverty, with life-long consequences.
Investing in jobs and job creation, including expanding job training programs, fixing bureaucratic problems with state’s Veterans’ Employment Services, and generating hundreds of millions of dollars in loan guarantees for California’s small businesses to hire and expand.
Attached is more information about the Blueprint for a Responsible Budget or you can go to the Assembly’s website at http://asmdc.org/ and click on the Blueprint for a Responsible Budget button.
SACRMENTO – Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles) released the following statement on the death of Nelson Mandela:
“The world has lost one of the greatest crusaders for justice it has ever known. As we mourn his passing we must also remember the meaning of Nelson Mandela’s struggle and triumph. The fight for equality and justice must go on, here at home and around the world.”
SACRAMENTO—Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles) released the following statement on the decision by the board of Covered California today to maintain the current board policy for health plan renewals. Speaker Pérez is the author of the legislation that established Covered California, the nation’s first health care exchange created under the federal Affordable Care Act, and the author of the legislation that expanded Medi-Cal coverage to over one million low-income and uninsured Californians:
“Bucking political pressure and staying the course is the smartest way to keep health insurance costs down and maintain the consumer protections that are at the heart of the Affordable Care Act. Today's decision was the right thing to do, and sends a powerful signal to the rest of the nation since California is leading in the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. The Board's action continues that momentum to provide millions of California families with the affordable, quality health care they deserve.”
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."