What are your thoughts on Proposition 21, which would assist in funding state parks if passed in the November General Election?
Proposition 21, the November 2, 2010 ballot measure, will establish a guaranteed funding source for the operation, maintenance, and capital improvements of the 278 state parks. This measure has my full support and I encourage everyone to support its passage. The proposition will give California vehicles free admission to any state park in exchange for an $18 vehicle license fee and is essential to preserving and protecting our park system.
The state budget crisis continues to result in the targeting of state parks for closure. Proposition 21 will establish a protected trust fund that will not be subject to any other use and protect this precious resource for recreation and education. Additionally, state parks sustain our local businesses and economy, generating thousands of local jobs. Parks are a treasure that must be preserved. Please join me in voting for Proposition 21 on November 2.
Are you authoring or sponsoring any new items of legislation that may be of interest to Santa Cruz residents?
As Chair of the Assembly Health Committee, I have a number of bills designed to position California to maximize the opportunities provided by President Barack Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as federal healthcare reform.
My Assembly Bill (AB) 2287 will allow California to compete for federal funds to advance preventive and health education programs designed to expand our commitment to building healthy communities and to transition from a healthcare system that is currently built primarily on the treatment of sickness and disease. Under AB 2787, California will be able to compete for federal dollars to establish an Ombudsman and Consumer Advocacy program to provide consumers with information about their healthcare eligibility options, as well as serve as a complaint line once federal heathcare reform is fully implemented in 2014. Additionally, I am authoring AB 278 to develop electronic medical record pilot programs that will insure patient confidentiality and quality of care. All three of these measures are currently in the Senate Committee on Appropriations awaiting a hearing. In light of the costs associated with the 15th Senate District special election, I introduced AB 46 in order to assist the counties impacted. The bill adjusts the criteria for the official vote canvass and minimizes some of the burdens on elections department staff. This bill passed out of the legislature and was signed into law by the governor on June 22.
Lastly, today there are an estimated 87 free-flying condors in the wild in California and only 350 total living condors including those in captivity. I introduced AB 1956 to provide additional assistance to protect condors. The bill allows qualified nonprofit organizations to transport dead carcasses to provide food for free-ranging California condors. AB 1956 represents a small step forward to guarantee the survival of these endangered, majestic birds.
An agreement has not yet been reached on the 2010-11 State Budget. Where do the negotiations currently stand?
The lack of an agreement on the 2010-11 State Budget is as frustrating to me as it is to many of your readers. The governor’s May Revise proposed balancing the 2010-11 Budget with severe and draconian budget cuts and the wholesale elimination of critical programs including CalWorks, the welfare to work program, whose beneficiaries are 75 percent children. In addition, the governor proposes drastic cuts to public education, In Home Support Services, Adult Health Day Care, Family Planning Services, Domestic Violence Shelters, and public safety programs.
I continue to support the California Jobs Budget that seeks to preserve the more than 400,000 jobs that will be lost if the governor’s budget were to be enacted. We face a continuing impasse on these critical budget issues in large measure because of the two-third vote required to pass a budget in California. Despite consensus by a majority of members in the Assembly and the Senate, we remain unable to secure the required two-third vote needed at this time.
A recent encouraging development is that California will be receiving at least $2.5 billion in federal funds, keeping 16,500 teachers employed and providing healthcare to MediCal recipients. This commitment of the federal government is a positive factor in the current budget negotiations.