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.”
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.
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.
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.
SACRAMENTO—Assembly Speaker Toni G. Atkins (D-San Diego) announced today that the Assembly Democratic Caucus has selected Assemblymember Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood) to become the 70th Speaker of the Assembly. The leadership change will occur after a floor vote in January and a transition period to be determined by the Speaker and the Speaker-designate.
“With the crush of business facing us in the coming final week of the legislative session, I decided it’s time to end all the suspense and speculation so we can focus our undivided attention on the critical issues before us,” Speaker Atkins said. “The Caucus has made an excellent choice, and I’m delighted to see everyone uniting behind Assemblymember Rendon. I know he will find the job as rewarding and challenging as I do.”
“I am deeply honored to have the support of my colleagues to become the next Speaker,” Assemblymember Rendon said. “I also know I have a very tough act to follow, which is why I’ll be working to learn as much as I can from Speaker Atkins as she leads us through the end of session and into next year. I am proud to be part of the Speaker’s team as we finish a very productive year and prepare for more successes in 2016.”
Rendon currently serves as Chair of the Assembly Utilities and Commerce Committee. Prior to serving in the Assembly, he was an educator, non-profit executive director, and environmental activist.
SACRAMENTO – Assemblyman Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood) issued the following statement after being selected to be the next Speaker of the California State Assembly:
“I am deeply honored to have the support of my colleagues to become the next Assembly Speaker.
“The Assembly remains focused on doing the people’s work over the last week of this legislative session and finding solutions to the challenges Californians face every day.
“I thank Speaker Toni Atkins for her incredible grace in leading this house and continuing California’s role at the forefront of the nation and the world.”
Assemblyman Anthony Rendon is serving in his second term representing the 63rd Assembly District, which includes the cities and communities of Bell, Cudahy, Hawaiian Gardens, Lakewood, North Long Beach, Lynwood, Maywood, Paramount, and South Gate.
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.
LOS ANGELES—Declaring the urgent need to keep California moving, 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 the state.
“Currently, the state has $59 billion in deferred maintenance for transportation projects,” said Speaker Atkins (D-San Diego). “We've been working with a broad bipartisan coalition that includes business and labor leaders, transportation experts and officials from the state, cities and counties. Our next steps will be working with Republicans in the Legislature. It may be a bumpy road, but we believe that we can find a solution that will concretely and tangibly make Californians' lives better by making safer roads that keep goods and people moving.”
OAKLAND—Declaring the urgent need to keep California moving, Assembly Speaker Toni G. Atkins, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. 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 the state.
“California cannot have a strong middle class or a thriving economy if our roads are congested and people and goods aren’t moving efficiently,” said Speaker Atkins (D-San Diego). “That’s why in the special session, I am hopeful we can set aside rigid ideology and consider serious proposals that provide a new, fair funding stream that benefits all California communities.”
SACRAMENTO – The state Legislature today honored the millions of immigrants residing in California and the nation with resolutions that point out their leadership and “countless contributions” that have enriched our nation.
“The immigrant story is the American story and that story is nowhere better told than in California,” said Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León, himself the son of an immigrant. “As our state is one of great natural beauty and geographical diversity, its people too present a wonderful mosaic of races, cultures, and religious beliefs that have shaped California and made it into the seventh largest economy in the world.”
SACRAMENTO—Assembly Speaker Toni G. Atkins (D-San Diego) issued the following statement regarding the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on Obergefell v. Hodges:
“This is a very emotional day. We feel relief, of course, that the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the fundamental right of same-sex couples to legally commit their lives to each other. We feel admiration for the couples and the advocates who have fought for marriage equality through election after election and court after court, never giving up. And we feel pride in a movement that has helped inform public opinion and bring about justice in what, historically, is a relatively swift period of time. But most of all, we feel joy for every couple in every state who now have the opportunity to share their lives with the respect, dignity and legal protections that marriage brings.”
Below are audio links of Speaker Atkins’ comments about the marriage ruling:
Speaker Atkins reacts to today’s marriage ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court. (1:03)
Speaker Atkins says has a personal understanding of what today’s ruling means to same sex couples. (:48)
Speaker Atkins says she will celebrate the ruling with friends, family and supporters in San Diego this evening. (1:38)
SACRAMENTO—Assembly Speaker Toni G. Atkins (D-San Diego) released the following statement regarding the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on King v. Burwell:
“I’m pleased the Supreme Court made the right decision and upheld the Affordable Care Act subsidies in states that have not set up their own health care exchanges. While California would not have been impacted had the subsidies been struck down, since we were the first state to establish an exchange, the ruling prevents chaos in the country’s health care system and protects millions of our fellow Americans who would have lost their health coverage. With this ruling showing that court challenges to Obamacare are as tenuous as the Congressional repeal efforts have been politically ineffective, maybe cooler heads can now prevail and the focus can be on how to make health care coverage even more accessible and affordable in every state in the nation.”