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Speaker Pérez: As Congress Lets Loan Rates Double, New CA Middle Class Scholarship Cuts Fees 40%

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(Los Angeles) - It was a great day for California's middle class college students and their families.  California State Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles) joined Governor Jerry Brown in Los Angeles at Cahuenga Elementary School for the signing of Speaker Pérez's Middle Class Scholarship. The Middle Class Scholarship will cut fees at UC and CSU by 40 percent for California families earning less than $100,000 and 10 percent for families earning less than $150,000 annually.

"This is a great victory for higher education and middle class families in California, and a huge first step in keeping college affordable," said Speaker Pérez.  "For the past ten 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 workforce to keep our economy strong."

Unfortunately, this great news for students comes the same day as some disappointing news.  Because of Congress's failure to act, student loan interest rates have doubled.  Even though today’s deadline to prevent the increase has passed, Speaker Pérez called on Congress to act to avoid this harm to students. In June, Speaker Pérez authored Assembly Joint Resolution 20, urging Congress to act to prevent the interest rates from rising, which passed with strong bipartisan support.

Watch the AB 94 signing ceremony and Speaker Pérez's comments in this Assembly Access Video.

Speaker Pérez and Legislative Leaders Join Governor Brown for Budget Signing

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(Sacramento) – California State Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles) and legislative leaders proudly watched as Governor Jerry Brown signed the 2013-14 California Budget Act.  This year’s balanced budget was hard-fought and years in the making.  Speaker Pérez worked tirelessly with other leaders in an effort that has restored fiscal responsibility to our budget as California and the nation recover from a long recession.

“This budget reflects the collective values of the people of California, while strengthening the middle class and delivering effective and efficient services.” said Speaker Pérez.

During the ceremony, the Governor also signed AB1X-1 which allows the implementation of the federal Affordable Care Act and will expand Medi-Cal coverage to over one million low-income and uninsured Californians.

“Today marks an historic milestone for health care in our state and the nation,” said Speaker Pérez. “AB1X-1 is an important vehicle for California to fully partner with the federal government to expand health coverage to our lowest-income Californians. The Governor’s signature on this important legislation means our state will help ensure the health and well-being of more Californians, and it allows us to continue to be a model on health care reform for the rest of the nation.”

Watch this Assembly Access Video to hear Speaker Pérez’s comments and see highlights of the budget signing ceremony.

Speaker Pérez Joins Hundreds at Rally Celebrating Decision Day

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Sacramento - It was a day that many Americans, especially those in the LGBT community held their breath for: Decision Day. On Wednesday, June 26, 2013, the Supreme Court of the United States declared the federal Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional and upheld marriage equality in California. California State Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles), the first openly-gay speaker of a state legislature had this to say, “This is a tremendous victory, not just for the LGBT community and not just the large and growing majority of Americans who have embraced us, but a victory for justice itself.” After the jubilant day, Speaker Pérez and hundreds of celebrants joined at the West steps of the State Capitol for a Decision Day rally. Although, the crowd was joyous about the SCOTUS marriage equality decisions, Speaker Pérez reminded those in attendance that there was still work to be done. “There are states in this country where marriage restrictions still exist,” Speaker Pérez proclaimed. “Tonight we celebrate, and tomorrow we go back to work.”

Listen to the Speaker’s inspiring speech in this Assembly Access Video.

US Supreme Court Declares DOMA Unconstitutional, Upholding Marriage Equality in California

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Sacramento - Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles) and members of the LGBT Caucus spoke during a news conference at the State Capitol after the U.S. Supreme Court announced its decisions declaring the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional and allowing same-sex couples to marry in California. “This is a tremendous victory, not just for the LGBT Community, and not just for the large and growing majority of Americans who have embraced us, but a victory for justice itself,” said Speaker Pérez. “With the Court’s action, Judge Vaughn Walker’s decision is the law of the land in California, and that means that, for the first time in five years, LGBT Californians can walk the streets of California knowing that we are fully equal citizens in every respect.” Here’s more in this Assembly Access video.

Legislature Passes Middle Class Scholarship

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(Sacramento) - This week, the California Legislature showed that higher education affordability is a priority for the state by approving the Middle Class Scholarship, which will slash student fees at UC and CSU campuses by up to 40 percent for California families making under $100,000 a year and 10 percent for families making under $150,000. “This has been an important week for the Legislature, higher education and the future of California,” said Speaker John A. Pérez, who wrote the legislation. “For far too long, Californians have been squeezed out of a higher education by the skyrocketing tuition rates at the CSU and UC systems, forcing students to drop out of college or take on massive student debt that will negatively impact them for years, possibly decades, to come. That was putting our state on a path to failure. If California is to have a strong economy in the future, it is crucial that we have the foresight to invest in education now.”

Medi-Cal Expansion Bill by Speaker Pérez Approved

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(Sacramento) - The California Legislature has approved a measure by Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles) that will expand Medi-Cal coverage to more than 1 million low-income and uninsured Californians, a key element of implementing the Affordable Care Act. “With this bill we will help ensure California remains the nation’s leader in health care reform, and provide more Californians with access to affordable, quality health care,” Speaker Pérez said. AB 1X-1 now goes to Governor Jerry Brown for his signature.

Speaker John A. Pérez Statement on Passing On-Time, Balanced California Budget

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(Sacramento) – Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles) released the following statement on passing a balanced and on-time state budget:

"For the third year in a row, the Assembly has approved a balanced, on-time budget. Over the past three years, the work we have done has eliminated our structural deficit, balanced our books and increased our credit rating. The budget we have adopted today builds on that tremendous progress using the principles we outlined in the Blueprint for a Responsible budget: maintaining fiscal responsibility, strengthening the middle class and making government services more efficient and effective. We make crucial investments in the middle class, namely by repaying schools $2 billion in deferrals from previous years and by establishing the middle class scholarship to cut student fees by up to 40 percent at UCs and CSUs. And we take action to remove significant barriers to small business expansion and hiring.We expand healthcare coverage for more than one million Californians, and approve a new funding formula to put more money in the schools that need it most. This is a budget that reflects our principles of fiscal responsibility and opportunity for the middle class. It reflects the values of the people of California and the urgent challenges facing our state.  I am grateful to my colleagues--especially Budget Chair Blumenfield, the Budget Sub Committee Chairs and our Assembly Conferees for their hard work in crafting a budget worthy of the people of California."

Speaker John A. Pérez Statement on Budget Agreement

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(Sacramento) - Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles), Governor Jerry Brown and Senate pro Tem Darrell Steinberg met with reporters to discuss the Joint Budget Conference Committee’s agreement on a budget plan for the state. Speaker Pérez said, “The Budget Conference Committee’s actions last night put us on track to complete our third on-time, balanced budget in a row. The budget the Legislature will adopt by our Constitutional deadline reflects the core priorities laid out in the Assembly Blueprint for a Responsible Budget: continuing fiscal responsibility, strengthening the middle class and making government services more efficient and effective. I am particularly pleased the budget will take action on one of the most crucial issues facing our long-term recovery by making college more affordable with the Middle Class Scholarship Act.” Here’s more from the Speaker in this Assembly Access video.

Assembly Urges Congress to Avoid Doubling Student Loan Interest Rates

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(Sacramento) - On a 70-1 vote the California State Assembly approved a resolution by Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles) urging Congress to act swiftly to avoid a doubling of student loan interest rates. Under current federal law, Federal Direct Stafford Loan interest rates will jump to 6.8 percent from the present 3.4 percent on July 1, unless Congress passes legislation to avert the increase. The Resolution received unanimous, bipartisan support in committee. "Today the Assembly acted to help prevent hundreds of thousands of California's students from being hit with a major increase in the cost of their education," said Speaker Pérez. Here's more in this Assembly Access video.

Veterans Housing and Homeless Prevention Act

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(Sacramento) - The Veterans Housing and Homeless Prevention Act (Assembly Bill 639), authored by Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles), was the focus of a recent news report on KABC-TVin Los Angeles. AB 639 would give California’s voters 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. Here’s KABC’s story in this Assembly Assets video.   http://www.asmdc.org/speaker