On March 17, three California legislators introduced legislation that would establish a health impact fee on sugar sweetened beverages in an effort to fund obesity, diabetes prevention and dental programs.
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
SACRAMENTO - Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles), who authored legislation calling on Congress to prevent a doubling of student loan interest rates, today applauded the House of Representatives for joining the Senate in passing a bipartisan solution, but said the issue of college affordability is far from over.
"Today's vote prevents federal student loan rates from doubling, and that's a good thing," Pérez said, "but when student loan debt continues to exceed credit card debt in our country we still have a long way to go to 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.
Speaker Pérez is also the author of the Middle Class Scholarship, which 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. Under the Middle Class Scholarship, students attending a UC Campus will save up to $4,877 per year, while students attending a CSU Campus will save up to $2,198 per year.
WASHINGTON, D.C.— Fiscal responsibility and smart investment in jobs and business are helping put California on a path to prosperity following the Great Recession, Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles) told the Golden State Roundtable in Washington, D.C. today.
In addressing the Roundtable, a non-partisan organization of people in business, government and academia who have an interest in California, Pérez cited last week’s report from the Center for the Continuing Study of the California Economy that California has now retaken the mantle of 8th largest economy in the world, based off the strong growth in the state’s GDP throughout 2012.
The study also showed that for most of the past decade, California’s economic growth has been consistent with the national average, but in the past year, our GDP has grown a full percentage point higher than the nation’s, and that we can expect California’s job growth to outpace the nation for the next decade.
“In California we have focused on getting our fiscal house in order and creating jobs and business,” Pérez said. “The reports that our economy is outperforming most states and our revenues are rebounding faster than all but one other state show that our efforts are working. California is clearly leading the nation’s recovery.”
In his remarks Speaker Pérez noted that in passing its most recent on-time balanced budget the California Legislature has paid down debt, made investments in education and moving parents into the workforce and helped restore the state’s credit rating.
Speaker Pérez also discussed the importance of the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development, created in legislation authored by Pérez, which serves to attract new business and investment to California and to restore California’s overseas presence for the first time in nearly a decade.
Highlighting California’s investment in green manufacturing tax credits, Speaker Pérez pledged that California is committed to becoming home to one of the advanced manufacturing hubs President Obama has proposed.
Speaker Pérez is in Washington, D.C. this week for a series of meetings with key federal officials to discuss major issues facing California, including the state’s economic recovery, implementing health care reform, solving the student debt crisis and ensuring the state’s veterans are able to find jobs and access benefits and services.
The California State Society hosts the monthly Golden State Roundtables to facilitate discussion regarding California and national policy issues and to encourage communication and interaction among D.C. residents with California interests.
Below is the text of Speaker Pérez’s remarks, as prepared for delivery:
“Thank you. It’s always a pleasure to be back in Washington. In July.
I don’t know why I even bothered to bring a jacket with me. It’s about as useful as a simple majority in the Senate these days.
But it’s a genuine pleasure to be here today, and share with you what’s been going on in California. And for me, being here takes on an added significance, considering where things stood when I came before you one year ago.
Our financial future was by no means certain. We had a million fewer Californians working. Students faced the prospect of yet another major hike in their tuition. Schools were bracing for billions of dollars in cuts. Police and firefighters rushing to emergencies still wondered if their heroic duties would end with a pink slip in their paycheck. And Middle Class Californians in every part of our state questioned whether California would keep the promise of opportunity alive, and the California Dream available, for all our citizens.
But when I came before you, I didn’t say California was doomed. I quoted one of the most iconic figures of our history: “the reports of our demise are greatly exaggerated.” Today, I can tell you that those reports weren’t just wrong. They were “Dewey Defeats Truman” wrong.
Not only have we recovered, we’re leading the recovery. Last Friday the Center for the Continuing Study of the California Economy reported that once again, California’s economy is ranked eighth globally. Not only that, our economy is growing faster than 44 of our sister states. And our revenues have rebounded better than all but one, as a Center for Tax Policy study showed that same week.
Most tellingly of all: Our GDP has grown a full percentage point higher than the country’s. And job creation in California is set to outpace the rest of the nation for the next decade. Not just because tourists come to California to be awed by some of the greatest natural wonders on this earth. And not just because California still entertains the world. Those factors are certainly important, employing millions of Californians and being among the most resilient industries throughout the recession. But prosperity is on the horizon because California’s technology industry is expanding, pushing boundaries, innovating new solutions and leading the way forward.
All throughout the economic crisis and recession, we knew that rebuilding would be a long process. But we also knew that our efforts to rebuild must be focused on laying a solid foundation for the industries of the 21st century to truly emerge and come into their own, as Tesla is doing now, and as Google and Qualcomm did before them.
And when you look at what the Legislature and the Governor have done together, you can see that commitment is absolutely clear. We’ve balanced our budget. They days of Greco-Californian comparisons are over. We’ve reformed our regulations. A regulation that doesn’t reflect the world we live in is a drag on our economy, and the business that has to comply with it. We’re putting our dollars in the classrooms that need it the most, and we’ve knocked thousands of dollars of the cost of higher education for middle class students and families. We’ve focused our efforts on those areas that will restore prosperity—and with it, opportunity—to every Californian.
You see that focus most clearly in our establishment of the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development, or GoBiz for short. I wrote the law creating GoBiz, and we are already seeing good results. GoBiz is charged with serving as a clearinghouse to attract new business and investment to California.
It has put forward policies to help remove barriers to business expansion, and is reestablishing California’s overseas presence locating offices within some of our most important trading partners. The first office was recently opened in China, and we anticipate a second office in that nation, as well as an office in Mexico and Korea to eventually be established. These trade offices will fill a critical vacuum, attract new investments into our state, and ultimately create jobs for Californians.
GoBiz, along with policies like green manufacturing tax credits, are helping to drive California’s recovery. And GoBiz will be aggressive in fighting to ensure that California is home to one of the advanced manufacturing hubs the President is proposing to create in his budget. We want that hub, and we know it belongs in California.
GoBiz is one of our most important long-term policy initiatives. And that’s because we understand that California must be proactive in growing our economy. Not just for the next fiscal quarter, but for the next quarter of a century and beyond.
And that work begins with our budget. The budget is an expression of our values, and our blueprint for the future.
You see that clearly in the actions the voters have taken themselves. They eliminated a constitutional roadblock to progress by eliminating the supermajority requirement to pass a budget. They elected a Governor and a Legislature that are committed to rebuilding for the future, and unafraid of governing. They stood with us as we made every tough decision that was necessary. And then they showed their commitment to protecting education and public safety by approving temporary new revenues.
The results have been clear. Our deficit is gone. Surpluses are on the horizon. Our budgets are being passed on time. Three years in a row—for the first time in 30 years.
Our credit rating is up while the federal government’s is down. Billions more in borrowing costs for the US Treasury, while our smart fiscal policies have driven down borrowing costs in California by nearly half a billion dollars.
Our first principle of budgeting has been fiscal responsibility. The budget we passed has a strong reserve of more than a billion dollars. And I am leading my colleagues in an effort to put a genuine rainy day fund…one that truly protects us when the road ahead becomes harder. And one that puts the days of boom and bust in our budget permanently to rest.
That effort reflects our commitment to ensuring stability in California’s finances. But it is with respect to what our budget says about education that you most clearly see our vision for the future.
We started by paying back billions of dollars of IOU’s to California’s schools. We continued by reforming classroom funding, by increasing the base for the vast majority of California’s school districts—but more importantly, by investing additional resources in the schools where it will do the most good. Schools with a high proportion of English language learners…schools in low income areas…schools where an investment in opportunity today yields an outsized return tomorrow.
But of all the work we have done…of all the moments I have been privileged to serve as Speaker, none rank more highly for me than when I joined the Governor as he signed my Middle Class Scholarship into law.
Over the last ten years, student fees have more than doubled. Where once in California, middle class families could easily write a check to pay for the education their child has earned, today writing those checks…for 12,000 in tuition…thousands more in text books…and housing…is an impossible burden on middle class families.
Just a few weeks ago, the work of thousands of students who came to the Capitol…the voices of thousands of students and parents who signed a petition at campuses and PTA meetings across the state…the folks who fought so hard with me to make the Middle Class Scholarship a reality saw their work culminate in Governor Brown’s signature go on the law they fought for.
And for middle class California families, that signature is worth thousands of dollars in savings each year. Any family earning less than $150,000 per year will see a reduction of up to 40 percent. The Middle Class Scholarship relieves a burden for middle class families, and restores opportunity for middle class students.
Fifty-three years ago, Gov. Pat Brown made a promise for an affordable and accessible college education for every student who worked hard to earn it when he signed the Master Plan for Higher Education into law. And it’s fitting that it was Governor Jerry Brown who renewed that commitment when he signed the Middle Class Scholarship into law.
In both instances, we demonstrated our commitment to investing in our future, in putting forward the policies that will nurture the next groundbreaking revolution in how our world works. Every iPhone app, every Tesla rolling off the assembly line, every Google search is a testament to the transformative nature of our commitment to higher education… a commitment that unleashes the transformative potential of everyday Californians.
Opportunity is essential for the Middle Class. And opportunity is the birthright of every Californian. And we take most seriously our commitment to opportunity for our veterans.
The Californians who are returning from Iraq and Afghanistan…the Californians who returned from the Persian Gulf, Vietnam and Korea before them…the Californians who have defended our country deserve nothing but our very best.
That is not our duty as policy makers. It’s our basic obligation as citizens. And that is an obligation my colleagues and I in the Assembly have taken to heart. Veterans need jobs. And our budget created an office dedicated to veterans in our state Labor Agency.
Veterans need housing, and I have introduced legislation to ask the voters to repurpose previously approved funding that isn’t being used to construct the homes for homeless veterans, and affordable housing for veterans and their families who need it.
Veterans have different physical and mental health needs than the average Californian, and we’ve funded strike teams to go into the three VA offices in California and connect veterans with state services and federal benefits.
And most importantly, veterans need to be able to find jobs, and need to have the well-being to do their jobs well. The California Assembly has taken that obligation to heart. We have cut our own operating budget so that we can free up scarce dollars to fund programs for veterans. From the counseling services they need, to the job training and placement assistance they deserve, the Assembly’s contributions have helped fund crucial programs for veterans.
That includes the money we gave to the California National Guard to fund their Work for Warriors Program. Work for Warriors helps connects guard members who are looking for full time employment with more than 100 of California’s leading employers in the private and public sector. And I want to take a moment for those of you who represent some of California’s major employers—Work for Warriors is a phenomenal program, and you should invest in its success.
Right now, they are averaging three job placements a day. Three new members of the work force who are each strengthening our recovery. And where the average federal job placement program for veterans costs $10,000 per placement, Work for Warriors spends $500.
Work for Warriors is a program founded on our obligation to honor the service of our veterans, but more importantly, guided by our commitment to making smart investments in our future while holding the line on fiscal responsibility every day.
And as Californians, each of us is proud of the fact that our state is leading the way on the national recovery. That we are the golden foundation for a prosperous future. We know that future will be secured by fighting for opportunity…opportunity for businesses to expand and opportunity for Californians to unleash their potential.
As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “America is another name for opportunity.”
Opportunity has been synonymous with the California Dream since those first days when James Marshall looked into a creek bed and saw gold. From that moment, California has been known throughout the world as a place where everyone, no matter who they are or what their background, can have the opportunities to succeed in life. And every successive generation of Californians has lived up to the obligation by reaffirming its commitment to opportunity.
I firmly believe 2013 is the year where this generation has taken the first steps of reaffirming that obligation as well.
The reports of our demise weren’t exaggerated. They were outright false. California is leading the way back.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – In a series of meetings with key federal officials this week, Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles) is leading discussions on major issues facing California, including the state’s economic recovery, implementing health care reform, solving the student debt crisis and ensuring the state’s veterans are able to find jobs and access benefits and services.
“As we continue to move past the great recession, California has a terrific story to tell, and I am pleased to be able to share that story with key administration and congressional officials,” Speaker Pérez said. “As California succeeds, the nation succeeds, and after some tough times, California is once again able to make smart investments in the future. It’s important for state leaders to build federal partnerships to help maximize the reach of our efforts and maximize the return on our tax dollars.”
The Speaker’s meetings with Obama Administration officials have included Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius; Richard Cordray, Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau; Veterans Affairs Undersecretary Alison Hickey and Assistant Secretary Tommy Sowers; and General Frank J. Grass Chief of the National Guard Bureau. Speaker Pérez is also scheduled to meet with Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senator Dianne Feinstein and several other members of Congress. Speaker Pérez will also address the California Congressional delegation and speak to the Golden State Roundtable, a non-partisan organization of people in business, government and academia who have an interest in California.
Topics the Speaker’s meetings are covering include:
The recently approved state budget and ongoing efforts to maintain and improve California’s fiscal stability.
Implementation of health care reform, including the Speaker’s legislation to establish the Health Care Exchange in 2010, which positioned California to be ready to meet open enrollment in October 1, 2013.
The ongoing state-federal partnership on Med-Cal expansion, including the Speaker’s recently enacted legislation to expand eligibility for childless adults up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level.
Improving Veterans’ access to benefits and services, including the Speaker’s legislation AB 639, which will help homeless and at-risk for homelessness veterans find housing, jobs and social service assistance, and would put California at the forefront of the country’s efforts to end veteran homelessness by 2015.
The announcement by the Department of Veterans Affairs that California non-profit organizations would be receiving grants of $38 million to assist homeless and at-risk veterans and their families.
The success of the National Guard’s Work for Warriors program in California. The Assembly supported Work for Warriors, with two $500,000 grants, helping the program exceed all expectations, placing over 1,300 guard members in jobs.
The status of negotiations on comprehensive immigration reform and the importance of immigration reform to California’s economy.
Updates on implementing foreclosure protection and mortgage reform rules including the Homeowner Bill of Rights passed by the California legislature in 2012.
Potential steps to solve the immediate problem of student loan interest rates doubling and the long term issue of student loan debt. The Speaker described how his 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.
Ongoing discussions to identify priorities and accountability measures to develop a water bond that can gain the necessary support of the Legislature and voters.
“There are a number of important issues where California and the federal government can and should cooperate, and I appreciate the opportunity to discuss so many of those issues with the appropriate federal officials,” Speaker Pérez said.
SACRAMENTO –The Veterans Housing and Homeless Prevention Act by Speaker John A. Pérez, which aims to help California veterans and their families get off the streets and into homes, unanimously passed a key Senate Committee yesterday, making it one step closer to passing the legislature. AB 639 focuses on providing housing for veterans and their families who are homeless or at risk for becoming homeless, as well as providing services to help them obtain and keep their homes, such as job training, underemployment assistance, mental health counseling, physical rehabilitation and substance abuse treatment.
“We are also seeing an increased number of younger veterans and women veterans and their families becoming homeless at rates faster than their Vietnam-era counterparts,” Speaker Pérez said. “Providing more supportive housing opportunities will help to reduce the number homeless veterans and also significantly decrease healthcare and public safety costs as many homeless veterans unfortunately get tangled in our jail system and disproportionately use our emergency rooms.”
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).
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. If AB 639 passes, California will be at the forefront of the country’s efforts to end veteran homelessness by 2015.
The next step for the bill is the Senate Appropriations Committee.
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."
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."