Releases & Statements

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SACRAMENTO – Assembly Speaker Toni G. Atkins concluded the 2015 legislative session by highlighting the significant gains for Californians made by the Legislature this year.

“When the PPIC report came out last year showing that half of California’s children live in poverty or near poverty, I was moved to act,” said Speaker Atkins (D-San Diego). “That motivation pushed the Assembly to include the $380 million state Earned Income Tax Credit in the budget for 2 million workers. Struggling Californians looking for work will be aided by the $263 million we provided for a comprehensive package of child-care services.”

Session highlights:

Reducing Poverty

  • 2 million Californians will now benefit from the Assembly Democrat-championed $380 million state Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).
  • 50,000 Californians will be lifted out of poverty and another 50,000 will be lifted out of deep poverty.
  • More families will be rescued from homelessness due to a $15 million increase in funding to the CalWORKS Housing Support Program to last year’s $20 million.
  • Affordable Housing: Legislation by the Assembly Democrats expands California’s very-low and extremely low-income housing credit, designates a state agency to administer the funds received from the Federal Housing Trust Fund and seeks to reduce recidivism by providing housing for formerly incarcerated inmates through Proposition 47 savings.

Investments in Education

  • From Early Education to Higher Education More than 84,000 students have benefited from the Middle Class Scholarship for the 2014-15 school year, totaling over $56 million in grants.
    • The Middle Class Scholarship is set to award $80 million in grants for the 2015-16 school year.
  • The California State University system received $97 million to increase enrollment and fast-track graduation. The Assembly instituted zero-based budgeting for the University of California system, allowing the public and Legislature to scrutinize whether the UC is spending its money efficiently and whether tuitions could be frozen at current levels.
  • More than 85,000 community college students stand to benefit from a substantial increase in Cal Grant funding.
  • This year’s budget includes nearly $500 million for a one-time teacher-effectiveness block grant to help improve performance in the classroom.
  • The state budget appropriates $265 million to fund an additional 7,130 preschool slots and 6,800 child care slots.

Drought Relief

  • Areas hit hard by the drought were provided immediate relief through a $1 billion drought package in March.
  • The budget includes $10 million from Proposition 1 aimed at increasing water efficiency.
  • California also moved to: consolidate the drought water system; give a CEQA exemption for recycled water projects, water codes and well ordinances; expand local enforcement and penalties for drought violations; and require drought monitoring and reporting for some water diversions.

Climate Change

  • The Legislature passed SB 350, a landmark climate-change bill that pushes for stronger standards for renewable energy and building energy efficiency.
  • Legislation that ensures diversity on the state Air Resources Board was passed.