With the holiday season fast approaching, I've had a few moments to reflect on the last year and to be grateful for the progress we've been able to make in Sacramento thus far in my first term in the State Senate.
Given my experience in local government, I'll admit that the transition to Sacramento hasn't been completely smooth, especially since it often feels as though partisan politics gets in the way of pragmatism and problem-solving. But we've definitely moved the ball down the field, particularly with respect to regulatory reform and CEQA reform.
Still, there's far more work to be done to get people working again, and I've been grateful for the positive, constructive feedback I've gotten from constituents I've spoken with in my meetings around the area over the last two months.
I'd love to hear your thoughts as well, so don't hesitate to contact my office through my website if you have any additional insight to share. And don't forget to forward this email to a friend so they can sign up to receive our eNewsletters and keep up-to-date about what's going on around the 12th Senate District and in Sacramento.
This month's "Ask Anthony" question was from Douglas in Turlock about California's public-employee pension systems. It's an especially timely question, since Governor Brown just unveiled a 12-point pension reform plan last month that largely mirrors the one my colleagues and I proposed earlier this year in Senate Constitutional Amendment 13. I'm encouraged by Governor Brown's willingness to embrace many of our reform proposals, and I hope he'll put his plan before the Legislature immediately. Be sure to take a moment both to watch the video below and to read the op-ed I penned for the Ceres Courier earlier this year about what we can do to ensure California's pension systems are sustainable and actuarially sound for years to come.
We've gotten some bad news on the fiscal front recently, both from State Controller John Chiang and from the Legislative Analyst's Office (LAO). Last week, Controller Chiang reported that California's revenues for July through October were $1.5 billion behind the projections outlined in the majority-vote budget passed earlier this year. On Wednesday, the LAO projected that the state will take in a total of 3.7 billion less revenue this year - meaning the likelihood of automatic trigger cuts to K-12 schools, higher education and social services are all the more likely. Clearly, Sacramento can't keep counting on rosy economic projections to solve the budget - we have to actually do the hard work of prioritizing spending and making California a place where businesses can flourish and hire workers. That's most certainly going to be a top priority when I head back to Sacramento in January.
I am thrilled to announce that Dillon Gibbons, a ten-year veteran of California politics, has joined my team as chief of staff. Dillon most recently served as chief of staff to Assembly Republican Leader Connie Conway, and he's also spent time working for Assemblywoman Bonnie Garcia and for the Assembly Republican Caucus. He began his political career working for the California Chamber of Commerce, and I know his combination of private- and public-sector experience will be a great asset. Dillon is a dedicated, capable professional, and I hope you will join me in welcoming him!
Now that the legislative year has wrapped up, and Governor Brown has signed and vetoed all the bills that were before him, a number of organizations have put together scorecards rating legislators on our votes on their top priority issues. For example, I'm pleased to announce that I earned a perfect score from the California Chamber of Commerce, which represents nearly 15,000 members in fighting to make California a better place to do business. I also got a 100 percent rating from the California Taxpayers Association, which has been a strong proponent of fiscal responsibility for more than 80 years.
Honoring Our Veterans
I had the opportunity last week to commemorate Veterans Day in Madera, Merced and Atwater. It was a great opportunity to pay tribute to those who have put their lives on the line to defend this great country. In fact, California is home to nearly 2 million veterans, and some 75,000 live in Madera, Merced, Monterey, San Benito and Stanislaus Counties today. As vice chair of the Senate Veterans Committee, I'm also committed to honoring their service, not only with parades and ceremonies - but also by doing our part to serve and support those returning home from combat. You can be sure I'll continue working to ensure that we uphold our responsibilities to these honorable Californians.
The Employment Training Panel (ETP) recently announced approving $7,920 in job-training funds for Madera's CADMaster Technologies. The funds will help support the company's nine employees as they update their skills to ensure they can compete against out-of-state and out-of-country businesses in our 21st-century global economy. If you know of a company that could benefit from economic development program support through ETP, visit www.etp.cahwnet.gov to find out more information about their services.
With the holiday season upon us, CAL FIRE is warning Californians about the big uptick in house fires around this time of the year. As you spend time with friends and family, be sure to keep the following in mind:
- Do not leave burning candles unattended or place them near flammable materials
- Never walk away from something cooking on the stove
- If a fire does start on the stove top, put on the lid, then turn off the stove. Never pour water on the flames!
- Do not run extension cords for your holiday lights across lawns, driveways, or traffic areas
For more information about what you can do to keep your family safe from fires, visit CAL FIRE's website by clicking here.
Whether you're looking for help with housing, child care or employment, or you need help in the event of a disaster, 2-1-1 can put you in touch with the information you need. Specialists can help evaluate your needs and provide you with a referral to community resources and services, including disaster response, health services, food and housing resources, mental health and counseling services and much, much more. Better yet, it's free and confidential. For more information, visit www.211california.org.