What options does the legislature have in terms of the state’s budget now that the June ballot measure has faded as a possibility?
In January, Gov. Jerry Brown proposed a budget to address the estimated $25.8 billion deficit with $12.5 billion in extremely difficult cuts and a five year revenue package that would require voter approval in a special election this June. In order to place this revenue extension on the June ballot, a two-third vote of the legislature was required by the end of March.
My Democratic colleagues and I have been supporting the governor’s efforts to let the voters decide if revenues should be part of a budget deficit solution. Unfortunately, my Republican colleagues were unwilling to work with the governor to place this issue before the voters.
At the present time, we are beginning to move forward with the normal budget process. Subcommittees will be meeting to resolve issues that were previously deferred and address issues that will be raised in the governor’s May Revise.
In March, we approved $14 billion in painful budget cuts and now have a roughly $13 billion shortfall to resolve. Of the options currently under consideration, we are still working to place a revenue extension before the voters with a two-third vote of the legislature, and are discussing the placement of the revenue extension before the voters with a majority vote budget.
Californians deserve to have both parties—Democrats and Republicans—be part of the budget deficit solution. I continue to remain committed to working with all my colleagues to find a genuine budget solution that will put California on track toward economic recovery and prosperity.
How would the foreclosure bill that you are currently co-authoring help Santa Cruz area homeowners?
I am currently a coauthor of Senate Bill (SB) 729 authored by Sen. Leno. The bill would establish a procedure for both borrowers and lenders to modify a home loan if a modification is requested by a borrower.
Currently, many borrowers request loan modifications and do not receive a response to their request. SB 729 states that if a borrower requests a loan modification, the lender must respond with a yes or no answer. In the event a lender does not respond to a borrower’s request for a loan modification, the borrower would have legal recourse. If SB 729 is enacted, it would become California law on Jan. 1, 2012 and assist homeowners who request a loan modification on or after that date.
According to RealtyTrac, Santa Cruz County’s foreclosure rate is lower than the statewide average. Unfortunately, this is little consolation for the homeowners facing foreclosure. In light of the evidence that loan servicers have been proceeding illegally with foreclosures, it only makes sense that when borrowers request a mortgage modification that they receive a definitive response and explanation. While the passage of SB 729 does not require lenders to modify a home loan, nor assist homeowners who have already lost their homes, it is my hope that the bill will assist homeowners who are currently struggling to keep their homes.
You recently introduced Assembly Bill (AB) 753, a measure that was prompted by a tragedy that occurred here in Santa Cruz. How will this legislation protect consumers in the future?
I introduced Assembly Bill (AB) 753 as a result of a tragic accident that occurred in the Santa Cruz area. Sisters Raechel and Jacqueline Houck were killed while driving a recalled PT Cruiser rented from Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Approximately one month before the Houck sisters were killed, Enterprise received notice from Chrysler that the PT Cruiser had a defective steering component that was prone to catch fire. Despite the warning, Enterprise rented the car to three other customers before renting the PT Cruiser to the Houck sisters.
AB 753 would prohibit rental car companies from renting or selling vehicles that are subject to a federal safety recall. Once the vehicle has been repaired, it can be rented again.
New car dealers are prohibited from selling new cars that are subject to a safety recall. However, all the major rental car companies may rent or sell vehicles subject to the same safety recall. AB 753 will help ensure that the Houck tragedy is not repeated and that consumers are able to rent cars without worrying whether safety defects have been repaired. I ask that you join me in supporting this very important consumer safety bill.