Last week, the State Legislature was busy working to meet the "house of origin" deadline, meaning that all bills introduced in the Senate or Assembly have either been passed to the other house or will wait for a second chance next year. I’m particularly pleased to report that three of my bills - SB 513, SB 707 and SB 736 - passed the Senate with bipartisan support, and I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Assembly to get these bills passed and to the governor for his signature.
With this legislative deadline past, the focus in Sacramento is now shifting back to the state budget. In announcing his May Revision last month, Governor Brown shared some good news: California will take in about $6.6 billion more in revenues than previously anticipated. Combined with the State Legislature’s action earlier this year to pass about $12 billion in spending reductions, this means the state’s budget shortfall is a fraction of what began in January as an estimated $26 billion deficit.
However, our work is far from done. Not only must California find billions of dollars more in budget solutions to close the remainder of the gap, but even more importantly, we must take swift action to address the structural challenges that caused this massive deficit in the first place. As I’ve said before, that’s the reason it’s so critically important that the voters have the opportunity to weigh in on pension, spending and regulatory reforms that will help fix the underlying problems that contribute to our state’s persistent budget crisis.
Your input is vital to these efforts, and I invite you to share your opinions about these reforms and the condition of California’s economy and finances by clicking here to complete our 2011 Budget Crisis Survey. Please do not hesitate to contact our office should you have feedback to share about this or any other legislative issue of concern to you.
Honoring the Fallen
Memorial Day is an opportunity for us all to remember and pay respect to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our flag and the freedoms for which it stands. I was honored to commemorate this important day at both the San Joaquin Valley National Cemetery in Santa Nella as well as with the Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion Post 88 in Turlock. Together, we paid tribute to the brave Americans who have lost their lives defending this great county, and we prayed for the safe return of those who continue to serve our country at home and abroad.
12th Senate District Small Business of the Year: N & S Tractor
I had the privilege to recognize N & S Tractor of Merced as the 12th Senate District's 2011 Small Business of the Year during the California Small Business Day luncheon on June 6. N & S Tractor has a decades-long history of serving and supporting communities around Merced and Stanislaus Counties. Arthur Nutcher and his employees continue to carry on his father's legacy of good old-fashioned service not only in their stores, but also by investing in the next generation of farmers and ranchers through the Future Farmers of America, 4-H and other community-based organizations. Do you know of a small business that should be considered for next year's award? Click here to let me know about it, and we'll be sure to keep your suggestions in mind for the future.
Serving the 12th Senate District
In my opinion, my most important job as a state senator is to serve my constituents and that includes helping people navigate what can sometimes be a complicated web of state bureaucracy. Recently, Bill Ritz in my Salinas office was able to help the Community Food Bank of San Benito County and Pat's Place thrift shop resolve an issue they were having with the Board of Equalization. Dedicated individuals like Executive Director Mary Anne Hughes play a critically important role in our communities, and we're glad to offer whatever help and support we can. My staff and I stand ready to assist with any state issue you might have; to get in touch, click here to contact one of my three district offices in Merced, Modesto and Salinas.
Whooping Cough and California's Immunization Law
School may be out for most students, but you can never be too cautious about your child's health. In particular, whooping cough has become more prevalent in California than at any other time in last 50 years. Also known as pertussis, whooping cough is a contagious respiratory disease that spreads easily and can be fatal, especially in babies less than a year old. Effective next month, all students entering 7th through 12th grade must have proof of a whooping cough vaccine booster (Tdap) shot before starting school. Be prepared for these new requirements by visiting www.shotsforschool.org to learn more about the Tdap booster.
Are You A Veteran Between the Ages of 18 and 25?
The California Conservation Corps is inviting recently discharged veterans interested in gaining work experience and wildland fire training to apply to join a crew working on fuel reduction, forest thinning and forestry and wildfire education projects in the Lake Tahoe Basin and elsewhere around the state. Employment begins as early as next month, and applications are being accepted now. For more information and to apply, visit the Corps website at www.ccc.ca.gov