(Sacramento) – As the 2013 session of the California Legislature adjourned, Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles) called the session a productive year where the Assembly remained focused on the values and priorities of the people of California. “We passed major bills on a variety of important topics this year, including the Middle Class Scholarship, health care expansion, and affordable housing for veterans,” Speaker Pérez said. “The record shows that we were clearly focused on maintaining fiscal responsibility, increasing prosperity and opportunity, delivering effective, efficient services and investing in California’s future.” Here’s more in this Assembly Access video.
SACRAMENTO - As the 2013 session of the California Legislature adjourned early Friday, Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles) called the session a productive year where the Assembly remained focused on the values and priorities of the people of California.
"After several tough years of weathering the Great Recession, California is clearly on the comeback trail, thanks in large part to the work of the Legislature," Speaker Pérez said. "We passed major bills on a variety of important topics this year, including the Middle Class Scholarship, health care expansion, and affordable housing for veterans. The record shows that we were clearly focused on maintaining fiscal responsibility, increasing prosperity and opportunity, delivering effective, efficient services and investing in California's future."
Maintaining Fiscal Responsibility
The 2013-14 budget was again passed on time-the first time in 30 years a budget was passed on time three years in a row.
The budget is balanced, with a reserve of $1.1 billion, and is structurally balanced throughout the entire forecast period.
The budget also pays down $4.2 billion in budget debt, including over $2.1 billion owed to local schools.
The Assembly also set the stage for crafting a workable Rainy Day Fund for the November 2014 ballot that protects the budget against cycles of boom and bust.
Working to Increase Prosperity
Increased the role of the Governor's Office of Business and Development in strengthening California's economic recovery by requiring GO-Biz to prepare a California Economic Development Strategic Plan during each Gubernatorial Administration. This will provide an ongoing economic development roadmap to guide public policy decisions for economic growth and competitiveness.
Increased the minimum wage$10 hour minimum wage boosts earnings by $4,000 a year and will put $2.6 billion dollars back into the hands of workers. This is money that will be spent at neighborhood markets and grocery stores, on school supplies and invested in education."
To help spur business growth the Assembly led the effort to permanently cut the processing time for the Secretary of State to process business filings from over 60 days to no more than five days.
The budget provided $4 million for Local Coastal Plans to be updated to streamline and improve coastal zone changes in accordance with the Coastal Act.
Passed legislation to modify the enterprise zone program to help areas of the state that were hit the hardest during the recession:
Improving hiring credits for employers.
Adding incentives for employers to hire veterans and people who have been jobless for over six months.
Ensuring companies statewide that purchase equipment for manufacturing, processing, refining, or recycling will not have to pay state sales tax on those purchases beginning in July 2014.
The Assembly worked to find flexibility for local governments to finance key economic development projects following the dissolution of redevelopment agencies. Following the dissolution of Redevelopment Agencies $3.9 billion in property tax has been distributed to date to California's cities, counties, schools, and special districts:
Investing in California's Future
The budget provided billions in new investments for schools, including a funding formula to target resources to low income students and English learners.
The Assembly led the fight for the Middle Class Scholarship, which starting in 2014, will effectively slash student fees at UC and CSU up to 40% for families making under $100,000 and up to 10% for families earning $150,000.
The budget invested in higher education by increasing funding for UC and CSU of $250 million, this increase will grow to over $1 billion by 2016-17.
Expanded healthcare to cover more than one million Californians, and made targeted investments to reduce California's worst-in-the-nation child poverty rate. Both steps remove potential drag on the state's ongoing economic recovery.
Responded to court order on prisoner release with thoughtful compromise that complies with the order, includes finding long term solutions to California's corrections problems and prevents the early release of convicts.
Approved ballot initiative allowing for repurposing of existing bonds to help meet Veterans housing needs and reduce the number of homeless veterans.
Increased the ability of veterans to receive benefits by allocating $6 million to fund strike teams to free up the back log of veterans claims and improve local veteran's services.
(Sacramento) – California is seeing a promising economic recovery during the last two years. However, some Californians who have jobs cannot support their families because they only earn minimum wage, which is currently $8.00 an hour. California State Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles) knows that a higher minimum wage will stimulate California’s growing economy and help struggling families. That’s why Speaker Pérez is in full support of Assembly Bill 10, authored by Assemblymember Luis Alejo (D-Salinas). AB 10 would raise California’s minimum wage to $9.00 an hour in July 2014, then to $10.00 an hour in January 2016. Speaker Pérez says now is the perfect time to raise our state’s minimum wage so more California families can reap the benefits of our state’s economic recovery.
“In the last year California has grown approximately one million jobs,” Speaker Pérez stated in a speech just prior to a successful Assembly Floor vote on AB 10. He continued, “Our revenue is coming in faster than all but one other state. We are growing jobs faster than any other state. And our recovery is happening faster than 44 other states.”
Speaker Pérez also noted that the other states that are currently doing better than California, have higher minimum wages. After successfully passing in both the Assembly and the Senate, AB 10 now heads to Governor Jerry Brown, who has stated his support for the bill. Learn more about AB 10 in this Assembly Access Video. http://www.asmdc.org/speaker
SACRAMENTO – To ensure California veterans have access to the housing they need, the California Assembly today unanimously passed the Veterans Housing and Homeless Prevention Bond Act of 2014 by Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles), sending the bill to Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. for his signature. Assembly Bill 639 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.
"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. "This legislation gives Californians the chance to make sure that the people who have served in our military—who have sacrificed for their country—will not have to worry about where they and their families will sleep. I am eager to see California give our veterans the support they are entitled to."
The Act provides California’s 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 funds has been put aside for single family homes and farms, while the need for multifamily, transitional and supportive housing has greatly increased. AB 639 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 (e.g. health care and incarceration expenditures).
"The Veterans Housing and Homeless Prevention Bond Act is a smart and compassionate way to help California’s veterans and their families find the housing they need and to help California lead the nation’s efforts to end veterans’ homelessness by 2015," said Stephen Peck, USMC Vietnam veteran and President of USVets, Inc. and the California Association of Veteran Service Agencies.
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 the most homeless veterans than any other state, with 25 percent of homeless veterans in the nation residing in the state.
CONTACT: John Vigna (916) 319-2408
Legislature Passes Veterans Housing and Homeless Prevention Bond Act by Speaker Pérez
(Sacramento) - To ensure California veterans have access to the housing they need, the California State Legislature has passed the Veterans Housing and Homeless Prevention Bond Act of 2014 by Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles), sending the bill to Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. for his signature. Assembly Bill 639 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. "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.
(Sacramento) – Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles) made the following comments at a news conference today to announce an agreement between the Governor and the Legislature on prison legislation:
“It’s wonderful we’re all here together on a bicameral and bipartisan basis to move forward with this legislation.
The legislation is modeled first and foremost on the governor’s proposal to avoid any release of prisoners and fully comply with the court order. We then modified the legislation to create opportunities for us to address any changes in the court order.
There are two elements to modification--one could be extension and the other should be a reduction in the number of bodies they are asking us to find solutions for.
The court has many ways to look at this. In any modification they give, it would free up resources to allow us to focus on recidivism reduction. The notion here is we absolutely are in compliance with the court mandate and will do it as cost effectively as possible.
If they don’t reconsider, we have a plan that we have all agreed, to which immediately moves forward on a housing-only approach that is completely consistent with the court order. So the impetus for the court to act is to see whether or not the housing only approach is their most desirable outcome or whether they are open to looking at other thoughtful approaches.”
SACRAMENTO – Speaker John A. Pérez released the following statement regarding the agreement reached today on state prisons that will not call for the early release of prisoners:
“The agreement contains the Governor’s original plan – which sends a clear message to the courts that there will be no early release, and sets forth a process for the Administration to implement any updated court order that results in lowering immediate capacity spending. Under this agreement, most of the savings would be redirected to a fund for programs to reduce prison population and recidivism.”
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."