The Legislature passed a budget with record high spending. The $122.5 billion dollar spending plan socks away money into the “Rainy Day” budget reserve fund, increases K-14 education spending and includes some new funding for local law enforcement and jail construction. These are good things.
Budgets are about priorities, and I think the Legislature missed the mark on a lot of issues:
- First, this budget is $7 billion dollars more than last year’s; despite the Governor’s warning that higher spending could put our financial stability at risk in years to come. We are just now recovering from a devastating financial situation that dramatically impacted our schools, social safety net and job market. Looking ahead and avoiding decisions we can’t afford down the road would be more prudent.
- The poor state of our roads was also ignored. Preliminary budget reports do not indicate any increase will be put to fixing the state’s roads, bridges and highways. The state’s lack of action on our decaying roads not only costs us more in car repairs, it is leaving local governments scrambling to finance needed repairs. Transportation infra-structure should be one of the state’s main priorities - not something that lines up behind new government office buildings and an unpopular high speed rail system for the crumbs.
- Tree mortality is a crisis in the making. The governor has recognized it, but as the magnitude of the problem continues to grow, it has become apparent it will dramatically alter many areas of California if left unchecked. It is unclear whether our communities facing high tree mortality rates will get little additional assistance.
CSU mascots were at the Capitol this month. Pictured here with Fresno State Bulldog, Victor E; the Stanislaus State Warrior, Cal Poly mascot Musty the Mustang
The California State University System (CSU) educates more than 400,000 students each year, yet funding for the system remains below 2007-2008 levels. Higher education is an important function of state government and should be supported so our children can find good jobs and our economy can grow with a vibrant, skilled workforce.
I recently co-signed a letter urging legislative leaders to support CSU’s request for an additional $101 million in this year’s budget. By 2030, California will be short 1.2 million baccalaureate degreed workers. Without investing in our education system, California’s students will be unable to compete for these positions. Appropriate funding for CSU should have been included in the latest spending plan but it was not. Link to the letter can be found here.
San Joaquin Valley Caucus to Attorney General Harris: No position on water storage? Then visit the Valley!
As part of a bi-partisan coalition of legislators from the San Joaquin Valley who invited California Attorney General Kamala Harris to visit our Valley and learn more about the importance of agriculture and water, I was perplexed to learn she has not taken a position on major water storage projects - specifically the Sites and Temperance Flat dams.
Additional water storage is one of the most important challenges facing California, particularly the San Joaquin Valley region. The sustainability of the region, and most of California, depends upon a reliable, safe, and clean water supply. So, it was surprising to learn Harris was unfamiliar with the dam proposals and had no position on whether they should be constructed.
This has been arguably one of the most debated and important issues facing the state. Agriculture, a multi-billion dollar industry in California, provides millions of jobs and feeds the world. We invited her to visit the Valley and see what all the fuss is about. Link to the letter can be found here.
Please join me for a Small Business forum on avoiding law suits - specifically law suits based on the Americans with Disability Act. I have invited Rachelle Taylor Golden, Esq. with the California Civil Justice Foundation to give a presentation and to answer your questions. It should be a very informative event.
Nationwide the number of disability lawsuits against small business is soaring. - in 2014 the number of lawsuits jumped more than 50% above 2013’s numbers. These lawsuits ultimately cost jobs and crowd our courts. Central Valley businesses are experiencing an uptick in lawsuits, so I thought it important to provide a forum for businesses to hear from experts and have their questions answered. I hope you can join us on July 28th in Fresno.
The next in our series of small business seminars will be held next month in Bishop. Hope you can join us.
It’s my hope this seminar will provide the tools and information needed to help you run your business efficiently. It will also provide a one-stop shop for answering questions and finding solutions to tax concerns. A distinguished group of experts will be available to guide you through tax laws, exemptions, and reporting requirements.
There was a packed house last week at the Oakhurst California Highway Patrol (CHP) offices for our Senior Scam Stopper Seminar. A big thank you to Assemblymember Frank Bigelow, and the CHP for cohosting! It is so important to be aware of current scams, how to spot them and what to do if you think you have been a victim.
Amador Hospital/Sutter Health was named one of the top 15 performing health systems in the United States. Dana Jorgensen, District Director in my Jackson office, presented Anne Platt, the CEO of Sutter Amador, with a Senate Certificate recognizing this achievement. Congratulations Sutter Amador!
Pat O’Brien represented me at Turlock Chamber of Commerce ribbon cutting for Supreme Lending. With Pat are Senior Loan Officer, Jini Arteaga and her daughter Laura Arteaga.
Fresno Chamber of Commerce President Nathan Ahle, Government Affairs Manager Nathan A. Alonzo, and Chamber members Wendy Marie Batti, Ruth Evans and Debbie L Hunsaker met with me in my Capitol Office.
It was a beautiful morning in Fresno and a great day to join Fresno State President Joseph Castro, other school officials, and donors to celebrate the opening of the 30,000-square-foot Jordan Agricultural Research Building. The first-of-its-kind in the CSU system. It is a very impressive facility made possible by a generous gift from the Jordan Family!
Congratulations to Fresno State ROTC on its 100th Anniversary. A great ceremony for a well-regarded organization.
American Legion from Ceres and other areas around the Central Valley.
We are pictured here with the Bureau of Land Management Crew. Everyone’s out and about during Mule Days in Bishop.
Representing a rural district has its distinct advantages - the people, the communities, the scenery, and the small-town feel. It also has the disadvantage of encompassing more than 27,000 square miles. As a result, we have three district offices (which can be found here). We also conduct mobile district office hours in many of our communities. The schedule for those is on my website. As always, please contact my office if you are having difficulty with a state agency (such as DMV, EDD, etc.…) by calling any of my district offices or talking with my staff during mobile district office hours. We are here to help.