Cannella Capitol Update: December 2012

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Dear Friend,

As this year comes to a close, I see it as a time to reflect on what it has meant for me and my family. It is also a time to look forward and set goals for the upcoming year.

All in all, I am very happy with 2012. As Senator, one of my main goals for this year was to create a better business environment to get more Californians back to work. There were a number of reforms that happened this year that will hopefully have a positive impact. My bill to make it easier for a small business to navigate the state’s permitting process was signed into law.

The legislature also passed reforms to the state’s public pension system. A pension reform package was passed that will bring considerable savings in not just the state budget, but the budgets of cities and counties across the state. The package that was passed will end up reducing costs by up to $55 billion in state employee pensions and billions more in other local pension systems.

Another major accomplishment from this session was workers’ compensation reform. The last time the system was overhauled was in 2004, and it resulted in tremendous savings for California businesses. Unfortunately, it wasn’t perfect. There were instances of injured employees that were not receiving the benefits they deserved. Not only that, but the costs of the system were quickly rising, which was going to result in higher costs at a time when California businesses can hardly afford them. A coalition of labor, employers, doctors, lawyers and insurers were able to come up with a plan that will increase payments to injured workers by an average of 29 percent. The plan also pares costs from the workers’ comp program by eliminating services that were frequently subject to lawsuits.

Right now, I am putting together a new legislative package for the upcoming session. My goals will be to continue to work on legislation that will make for a better business environment, such as CEQA reform, and strengthen public safety, such as making changes to the state’s prison realignment program.

I would like to hear from you about your ideas for legislation or any other issues that you might have. Please don’t hesitate to contact my office through my website if you have any questions, comments or insight to share. Help keep your friends and neighbors informed about what’s going on in Sacramento and around the 12thSenate District by forwarding this email so they can sign up to receive my eNewsletters as well.

Sincerely,
Anthony Cannella


13 Valley Legislators Ask Governor Brown to Allocate Realignment Dollars Fairly

As I’d mentioned in the introduction, one of my goals this year is to improve the state’s prison realignment program. Earlier this month, I joined Senator Michael J. Rubio (D-Shafter) and 11 legislative colleagues and sent a letter to Governor Jerry Brown to request that “realignment funds target counties with higher per capita populations of AB 109 offenders.”

Governor Brown and state corrections leaders have committed to ensuring that AB 109, the prison realignment law, is implemented in tandem with adequate levels of funding to cover the costs of this major change in California’s criminal justice system. Unfortunately, since realignment began in October 2011, rural counties, particularly those in the Central Valley, have witnessed a clear spike in the numbers of “non-violent, non-serious, non-sexual” offenders that have been diverted to local authorities to minimize overcrowding at California state prisons.

In order for prison realignment to succeed, we must provide our local law enforcement with the resources they need to properly deal with the criminals that fall under the guidelines of the program. With the current funding formulas, some counties are overburdened by realignment. As a result, criminals are being sent back on the streets prematurely and are reoffending. We need to alter the way that these funds are distributed so counties can protect their communities.

The bipartisan letter urged the Governor to reevaluate the current funding between counties since “if the current allocation formula continues, counties with higher numbers of AB 109 offenders will have great difficulty maintaining public safety and creating evidence-based supervision and treatment programs.” The letter also noted that counties with higher per capita populations of AB 109 offenders tend to experience higher than average crime rates and significant unemployment.

If you’d like to see the full letter, it is posted on my website at here.



Restoring the Healthy Families Program

Earlier this month, the Salinas Californian ran an op-ed I wrote regarding the restoration of the Healthy Families program. Earlier this year, in the annual state budget dance, the governor and Legislature approved the elimination of the program. At the time, legislators from both sides of the aisle decried the loss of a program that, for years, has been viewed as a success, providing nearly a million California children with affordable healthcare.

Ending the program saved just $17 million from this year’s over $100 billion budget. Even though I argued in support of the program and worked with a bipartisan group of legislators in the final days of session to save the program, efforts were unsuccessful.

For those unfamiliar with the program, the families enrolled in Healthy Families pay monthly premiums and copayments based on their income level and health care plan they choose. For many families that are not provided health care through their employer, Healthy Families is the only way they can afford insurance for their children.

When the program was eliminated, the goal was to transition those children enrolled into Medi-Cal, a program that is already overstressed. There are numerous stories of people in need of care that cannot find the doctors, specialists or treatments they require in a timely manner. The Medi-Cal reimbursement levels for treatment are so low that there are few providers that are willing to participate, and definitely too few for those that are already in the program.


Nominate a Small Business for SBA’s Small Business of the Year

Each year during National Small Business Week, the U. S. Small Business Administration (SBA) recognizes outstanding small business owners for their contribution to the American economy and society.

SBA is currently accepting nominations for several SBA awards including the 2013 Small Business of the Year Award. The Fresno SBA Office services the fifteen counties of Central California. Trade associations, chambers of commerce and business organizations frequently sponsor candidates. A business owner may also nominate themselves or other candidates.

As part of National Small Week, businesses located throughout Central California will be honored with local community events. Through the work of entrepreneurs, jobs are created, families are given a better life and whole communities are transformed. Please join us in the National Small Business Week celebration.

Nomination criteria and deadline dates for all award categories can be found by visiting the SBA website at www.sba.gov/ca/fresno and viewing the guidelines under the “What’s New” section or by contacting Melende Ward of the Fresno SBA Office at (559) 487-5791, ext 2709.

This is an opportunity to recognize an individual or an organization dedicated to the support of our small business community. Please submit your nominations to the U. S. Small Business Administration, 801 R Street, Suite 201, Fresno, CA 93721, attention Melende Ward.

All nominations must be received by the Fresno SBA Office by January 3, 2013.


Around the Capitol and District

Presenting a certificate of honor to the San Benito County Farm Bureau’s to president Ron Vaccarezza on their 90thanniversary.
Presenting a certificate of honor to the San Benito County Farm Bureau’s to president Ron Vaccarezza on their 90thanniversary.

Providing turkeys to senior citizens in West Modesto and children in West Modesto schools. Foster Farms donated the turkeys, and King Kennedy Memorial Center selected the recipients.
Providing turkeys to senior citizens in West Modesto and children in West Modesto schools. Foster Farms donated the turkeys, and King Kennedy Memorial Center selected the recipients.

Tamra Spade, from my Modesto office, presenting a certificate to American Legion, Post 74’s Citizen of the Year, Dr. Curtis Grant.
Tamra Spade, from my Modesto office, presenting a certificate to American Legion, Post 74’s Citizen of the Year, Dr. Curtis Grant.