SACRAMENTO – Assembly Speaker Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles) and Speaker-elect John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles) announced today that March 1, 2010 will be the date of Pérez’s official swearing in as the 68th Speaker of the California State Assembly.
“It’s recently been announced that March 1, 2010 will mark one of the roughest transitions in history--the changing of the Tonight Show from Conan O'Brien to Jay Leno,” Bass said. “I am delighted that March 1, 2010 will also mark one of the smoothest transitions in history, when I turn the Assembly gavel over to incoming Speaker John Pérez. As we have been meeting and working together closely these past few weeks, I know absolutely that John is more than ready, willing and able to step in as Speaker and do an excellent job helping the people of California meet the tough challenges we face together.”
“I am excited to officially assume the duties of office of Speaker,” Pérez said. “Even though this is one of the most challenging times in modern California history, I am confident that this can be a year of reform where we finally stabilize our budget situation, and push forward with the hard work of creating the decent, well-paying jobs that will bring California out of this recession. I want to thank my colleagues in the Legislature for their confidence, and I particularly want to thank Speaker Bass and Leader Blakeslee for their thoughtful and dedicated leadership. This can be a great year for California, and I am eager to get to work.”
(Sacramento) – The Assembly Committee on Revenue and Taxation has passed AB 1178, a bill authored by Assemblymember Marty Block (78th Assembly District, San Diego) to support California's college students by reducing by $120 million annually the sales tax on textbooks and school supplies found at college bookstores. AB 1178 would take the burden off the shoulders of students by bringing in state revenues currently lost to a corporate tax loophole that allows for the use of foreign tax havens.
“Our college kids are struggling to get by while corporate bad actors take a Cayman Islands Spring Break from paying their fair share in taxes,” Block said. “For some corporations to find a loophole whereby they don't have to pay their fair share is not only unjust, it adds to the burden the rest of us must shoulder and it should be illegal. This bill would close an often-used loophole to level the playing field in terms of tax burdens and help our college students strengthen our state's economy.”
According to California Franchise Tax Board estimates, AB 1178 will generate over $330 million in state revenues over the next three years by collecting taxes currently avoided by the use of foreign tax havens.
A long time advocate of closing corporate tax loopholes that leave an undue tax burden on California residents, Block wrote AB 1178 to ensure corporations would not be penalized for simply conducting economic activity in another country. AB 1178 must now be passed by the Assembly Committee on Appropriations before it is voted on by the full Assembly. For additional information on AB 1178, please contact Assemblymember Marty Block's Sacramento office at (916) 319-2078.
(Sacramento) - Assembly Speaker Karen Bass (D- Los Angeles) today said California should collaborate with the federal government to identify potential federal funding for the state, but questioned much of the rest of the Governor Schwarzenegger’s proposed spending plan.
“Democrats are supportive of the governor’s call for a better return on the dollars we send Washington, but budget threats the Governor usually aims at the Legislature should not be turned to the President of the United States,” said Bass.
Bass said leaders should approach the federal government from a point of collaboration and that all options should be on the table to address the budget deficit.
“The governor said that if California doesn’t receive $8 billion dollars from the federal government, he will push for draconian budget cuts to our safety net. He also called on our congressional delegation to vote against the health care reform we so desperately need in our country. It’s important we begin the challenging year ahead with cooperation, not a combative, contradictory tone,” Bass said.
The Speaker was critical of the administration’s proposed cuts that would effectively dismantle the safety net needed by millions of Californians, particularly during the ongoing recession. She also criticized the administration for slipping conservative policy proposals – that have no bearing on the budget – into the budget proposal in an effort to burnish the governor’s legacy.
“Unfortunately the governor is slipping policy issues in his budget that really amount to his concern over his legacy. Once again he’s looking to erode environmental, legal, education and pension protections. These have little to do with closing our budget deficit and more to do with a conservative legacy he wishes to leave behind. The governor says he wants to be in denial about this being his last year in office. This budget amounts to is a big pile of denial. The Legislature will take a much more serious approach to closing the state’s budget deficit.”
Speaker Bass: Gov’s Proposed Budget is “Big Pile of Denial”
(Sacramento) – California Assembly Speaker Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles) says she’s pleased the Governor is planning to press the federal government to pay its fair share to help California overcome the current budget crisis but says much of the rest of the Governor’s proposed spending plan has little connection to reality. Speaker Bass says the Governor’s proposed cuts would effectively dismantle the safety net needed by millions of Californians. And, Speaker Bass says the Governor has slipped conservative policy proposals – that have no bearing on the budget – into his budget proposal in an effort to burnish is legacy. Here’s more from Assembly Speaker Bass in this Assembly Access video.
(Sacramento) – This morning the California State Assembly chose John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles) to be the next Speaker. The timing of the transition from current Speaker Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles) to Speaker-elect Pérez has not yet been finalized. Links to audio of Speaker Bass and Speaker-elect Pérez are at the bottom of this e-mail.
Here are his prepared remarks he delivered at the start of the news conference that followed his election:
Good Morning. I want to thank you all for coming out today, and I especially want to thank Speaker Bass for her leadership, her friendship and her confidence. She has been a steadfast leader for California, and we have been fortunate to have her guiding our state through such unprecedented challenges.
This is an historic moment for California, where we face a number of complex and difficult issues. I am both proud and humbled to have received the votes of my colleagues to serve as the 68th Speaker of the California Assembly.
In the coming weeks and months, the Legislature will be called upon again to address a number of pressing issues, not the least of which is our budget situation. The Governor outlined the magnitude of the problem yesterday in his State of the State Speech, and once again called for reform on a variety of fronts.
In that respect, I believe the Governor is correct. Our state clearly needs a number of reforms, beginning with how we manage our finances through the budget process, and certainly in the broader context of how our government is structured.
I certainly have my own ideas, but I believe that for reform to be successful, every member must participate in the process, and every idea must be on the table. We will have a thorough discussion in the Assembly, but I believe a natural starting point comes in how we negotiate the budget. I stated on the floor a few moments ago that the budget process in the Assembly will be open, honest, transparent and inclusive. When the time comes for the Big 5 meetings, I will be presenting the Assembly’s budget to the other leaders, not writing the budget in the Big 5 and presenting it to my members.
I am confident that the Assembly will produce a body of reforms this year which will help to stabilize our finances and make government more functional.
I want to thank my colleagues for their confidence and trust. I’m looking forward to a productive year.[/important]
(Sacramento) – Today the Assembly Democratic Caucus voted unanimously to support Assemblymember John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles) to serve as the next Speaker. A floor vote is expected when the Assembly reconvenes in January. After the caucus vote Assembly Speaker Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles) issued the following statement:
“The Assembly Democratic caucus has made me proud many times in the past 18 months and today is one of those times. First by the high caliber of the Speaker candidates we had, especially the final two, John Pérez and Kevin de León, and second by the strength our caucus has shown in coming together and uniting behind one of those candidates, the next Speaker of the Assembly, John Pérez. Under his leadership and the continued leadership of Assemblymember De León and his supporters I look forward to another year of being made proud by my colleagues as we work to improve the quality of life for the people of California."
Assemblymember John A. Pérez thanked his Assembly colleagues for the honor:
“I want to thank the Members of the Assembly Democratic Caucus for the faith they have placed in me. It is a humbling privilege. I will work every day to justify that faith and to earn the enormous honor of having been drafted to serve as Speaker. The other candidates for Speaker, especially Assemblymember Kevin de León, have all shown great leadership for the Assembly and for this state and they have my great respect. As Speaker, I will look forward to working with a united Democratic caucus as we continue tackling our number one priority—helping the state recover from the recession and helping the California families who have been hit so hard by it.”
Assemblymember Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) added:
“Today, I was proud to stand and nominate my friend and colleague John Pérez to serve as Speaker of the California Assembly. I did so deeply thankful for the strong support and encouragement I have received from members of our caucus, and also mindful of the example of one of the great inspirations of my life and many others--Rosa Parks. Mrs. Parks showed us you didn’t have to have a particular office or title to effect great change. I am proud to be a member of the California State Assembly and I will continue working hard, with my colleagues and with Speaker Pérez, to bring about real change for the people of my district and all the people of California.”
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."