WASHINGTON D.C. – Today Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles) issued the following statement regarding Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s withdrawal of support for the Tranquillion Ridge project:
“Governor Schwarzenegger made the right decision for California today by finally withdrawing his support for the Tranquillon Ridge project. As he stated, the crisis in the Gulf of Mexico right now clearly and dramatically underscores the danger of off-shore drilling. This was exactly why the Assembly rejected this project when it came before us last year as a part of the Budget Package—and it’s exactly why the business as usual practice of ramming through major policy changes that have nothing to do with the budget in exchange for a few votes from the minority party is the wrong way for California to approve a budget package.” Website of Speaker John A. Pérez:www.asmdc.org/speaker
Low Participation of State’s Hard-to-Count Residents Threaten Federal Funding, Congressional Representation
LOS ANGELES – As Census workers begin knocking on doors in the effort to count the nation’s population, Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles) spoke today at a Congressional hearing on ways to increase the census participation of California’s large hard-to-count populations, which is critical in addressing the current undercount threatening California’s federal funding and Congressional representation.
“As we focus on jobs the budget and reform we want to make sure California gets all the federal funding to which we are entitled,” Pérez said. “The undercount from the 2000 Census has cost California $1.2 billion annually—money that could have alleviated at least some of the budget shortfalls we have faced over the past several years.”
In his testimony, Pérez suggested several ways the U.S. Census Bureau could increase census participation by hard-to-reach communities, many of which are based among California diverse immigrant populations. He called for:
Expanded use of trusted, local messengers with outreach tailored to their communities
Closer work between the Census Bureau and community-based organizations
Better census worker awareness of unique challenges posed by each community
Better understanding of community subsections that have consistently low participation rates
The 2010 national response rate is unchanged from 2000 at 72%. However, California’s response rate is down from 73% in 2000 to 71% in 2010.
In addition to determining the amount of federal funding California receives over the next decade, Census data determines where it will be distributed within the state, informing decisions on where to build roads, hospitals, schools, workforce training centers, and other projects. 2010 Regional response rates by county vary from 22% to 76% based on information collected so far, possibly leading to discrepancies in the distribution of federal funds.
SACRAMENTO - Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles) and Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) today announced they will meet Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, White House officials and Congressional leaders in a series of meetings in Washington D.C. next week to continue their work at increasing federal funding for California.
“California, like the rest of the country, continues to suffer the devastating consequences of the greatest economic collapse since the Great Depression,” Steinberg said. “After slashing more than $30 billion from our state budget, we must look to avoid draconian cuts this year if we expect to expedite California’s economic recovery or create more jobs for Californians. It is absolutely vital that our federal partners do everything possible to help our state and our people weather this recession.”
“The purpose of this trip is to work with our partners in the California Congressional delegation and the Obama Administration to identify areas where we can jointly alleviate some of the external pressures on our budget situation,” said Pérez. “We will also be meeting with officials and the delegation to discuss the implementation of federal health insurance reform to ensure Californians can begin to take advantage of the coverage expansions and patient protections.”
As California seeks to close a $20 billion budget shortfall, Steinberg and Pérez will emphasize to California’s Congressional delegation how federal funding for state investments is critical to helping close the budget gap, mitigating further erosion in key programs and infrastructure, and assisting California to economic recovery. Among the key items they will lobby for is an extension of the enhanced Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) for the state’s Medi-Cal and child welfare programs.
Following a trip in January with the Governor and legislative leaders, California received $675 million in financial relief by enhanced Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) reimbursement rates for Medicare Part D clawback payments.
Speaker Pérez Working to Expand Federal Support for California
(Sacramento) - Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles) and Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) have announced they will meet Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, White House officials and Congressional leaders in a series of meetings in Washington D.C. to continue their work at increasing federal funding for California. “The purpose of this trip is to work with our partners in the California Congressional delegation and the Obama Administration to identify areas where we can jointly alleviate some of the external pressures on our budget situation,” said Pérez. “We will also be meeting with officials and the delegation to discuss the implementation of federal health insurance reform to ensure Californians can begin to take advantage of the coverage expansions and patient protections.” Here’s more in this Assembly Access video.
Below are links to the audio files:
Assembly Speaker Pérez describes the legislation in his opening remarks at today’s news conference. (1:48) mp3
Speaker Pérez says this trip to DC is a follow up to previous meetings between legislative leaders and federal officials. (:25) mp3
Speaker Pérez says the DC trip will be focused on two areas – making sure California receives its fair share of federal funding and figuring out how best to expedite the implementation of federal health care reforms. (:46) mp3
Speaker Pérez says the Arizona immigration law is a bad idea, regardless of its popularity (according to polls in Arizona). (:27) mp3
Speaker Pérez says the Arizona immigration law is unconscionable and likely unconstitutional. (:32) mp3
Speaker Pérez says the Governor's decision to move the election days to replace former Senator Maldonado and cost the state millions is irresponsible. (1:01) mp3
SACRAMENTO - Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles) released the following statement regarding his vote in favor of confirming Senator Abel Maldonado (R-Santa Maria) as Lieutenant Governor:
“Two months ago, when this Chamber considered the same nomination, I voted against it because I believe our focus should be on job creation and reform, and did not believe that we should reward a backroom deal by the Governor.
“In the intervening period, this body has come together to approve a down-payment of job creation legislation to the people of California. We have approved legislation to waive the sales tax on equipment used to manufacture green products, creating an enormous incentive for job growth in one of THE growth industries of the 21st century, and we have approved a homebuyers tax credit that will help put the construction industry back to work by spurring new construction and the reduction of existing stocks.
“These were productive steps forward that Democratic and Republican Assemblymembers took together. Now we have taken another step forward by approving this nomination. I have met with Senator Maldonado over the past several weeks and have given him some frank advice, which is private. To the extent he has taken that advice, I believe he helped his case with me and other members.
“One thing that is certain is that Senator Maldonado and Governor Schwarzenegger now understand that this Assembly takes its responsibility seriously, and the Senator has demonstrated a willingness to work with us on job creation, the budget and reform. I now believe he has demonstrated respect for the role this Assembly plays when we execute the solemn and enormous honor of standing in for the voters when a vacancy precludes them from exercising their will, and have voted in favor of his nomination accordingly.”
SACRAMENTO – With Californians celebrating the 40th anniversary of Earth Day this week, Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles) is quickly moving innovative bills through the Legislature to create jobs by spurring green building upgrades. The Speaker is also authoring legislation to allow companies to preserve marine life-supporting artificial reefs resting on the underwater portion of decommissioned oil rigs and to grow the state’s carpet recycling industry by keeping waste carpet out of landfills.
“Californians know moving toward a green economy can be a win-win when done right, and I’m proud to be carrying bills that are examples of such solutions,” Pérez said. “We’re moving to leverage federal HOMESTAR resources so skilled workers can find good jobs upgrading energy efficiencies so homeowners save money, we’re making sure the State Capitol does our share to protect the environment and cut energy costs through the Capitol Sustainability Task Force, and we’re advancing the rigs-to-reef program that helps spur marine life and generate desperately needed funds to protect and enhance our valuable coastal and ocean resources. And in my own district, carpet recycling has created hundreds of good-paying green jobs. But we can create even more of these green jobs if we boost our efforts to recycle and reuse waste carpets. As we focus on our key priorities of creating jobs, fixing the budget and reforming a broken system, being able to boost our environment at the same time is definitely a win-win.”
AB 2614 would direct the California Energy Commission (CEC) to work with the U.S. Department of Energy to develop a program to facilitate the federal HOMESTAR program currently being considered in the U.S. Senate. The state program would involve numerous stakeholders to provide accountability and ensure that the projected energy savings are realized.
HOMESTAR is expected to provide for 50% rebates of up to $1500 for simple energy efficiency upgrades and 50% rebates of up to $3000 for more comprehensive energy efficiency retrofits. Additionally, HOMESTAR is expected to:
Create 168,000 jobs in skilled construction and manufacturing, two of the hardest hit sectors during the U.S. economic downturn
Save participating homeowners an average of between $200 - $500 per year in energy costs
Invest $6 billion in the form of consumer rebates to be matched by private investment
Help over three million American families to retrofit their houses to increase energy efficiency and save them as much as $9.5 billion in energy costs over 10 years
Remove the equivalent of 165,000 cars from the road or four 300 megawatt power plants form operation
Dedicate $200 million to provide access to low interest financing
Use a majority of manufactured goods made in the U.S., averaging well over 90 percent domestic production
AB 2670 would create the State Capitol Sustainability Task Force, whose duties would include:
Joining the California Climate Action Registry to determine, track, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions
Benchmarking and monitoring building operations, such as energy and water use
Improving waste diversion practices, such as material and electronic waste recycling, composting, and reusing materials
Investing in energy efficiency and water conservation technologies
Promoting environmentally preferable purchasing, such as green and recycled content products
Incorporating renewable energy, such as photovoltaic technology into our energy supply
Integrating sustainable practices such as double-sided copying, the use of low volatile organic compound paints, integrated pest management, and electronic distribution of certain documents
Partnering with utility companies, water districts, labor organizations, environmental groups, federal and local government, and private industry to develop green demonstration projects
Seeking a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) or ENERGY STAR rating
Developing public education materials on sustainability for student groups and other visitors to the State Capitol
Finalizing the Capitol Park Master Plan
AB 2503 would establish the Rigs-to-Reefs program, allowing the underwater portion of decommissioned oil rigs to remain in place to continue serving as valuable fish habitat. AB 2503 would:
Continue the removal of oil platforms from the seascape
Protect ocean biodiversity, including threatened rock fish populations and millions of other sea creatures that live on these reefs
Allow a rig to be converted to a reef only if the Department of Fish and Game finds that the conversion will result in a net environmental benefit
Create the California Endowment for Marine Preservation, which would receive 45 percent of the cost savings from rig conversion instead of complete removal. These funds, which could amount to up to one billion dollars, could be spent by the Endowment only for ocean and marine protection projects and activities
Reduces air and water pollution threats associated with the full removal of these rigs – some in waters as deep as 1,200 feet – which involves significant industrial equipment from around the world
AB 2398 would create incentives for carpet manufacturers to implement a carpet product stewardship program to increase the recycling and reuse of waster carpets. AB 2398 would:
Require carpet manufacturers to prepare a carpet stewardship plan to show how they will take responsibility for collecting waste carpet instead of sending it to landfills
Set targets of 50% collection by 2014 and 70% by 2017
Prohibit manufacturers from selling carpet in California after 2012 unless they have prepared a plan to meet the targets
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."