If you missed the League’s “Meet Your Local Elected Officials”event on March 3 here’s the scoop. Our event headliners, Rich Gordon and Jerry Hill discussed the top 3 priorities of the State Legislature. In the spirit of our local League’s Observer Reports, here is a transcript of the five minutes of remarks made by Rich Gordon and Jerry Hill. (Their oratorical style was preserved, but small edits were made to improve readability.)
Over 100 persons attending
As can be seen in the photo at the top, over 100 people attended the event, including about 40 officials and staff and about 60 members of the public.
Rich Gordon’s Remarks
Over the last two years the state of California has dealt with a budget deficit problem of $27 billion dollars. We cut $20 billion dollars worth of programs and services for the state. The voters in November passed prop 30 which helped us with the last 7 billion. So the governor was able to present to us at the state a balanced budget. But balanced very delicately and in a fragile kind of way. Any prolonged federal sequestration will throw that completely out of kilter. Federal funds we receive at the state will be diminished. And across the state communities will begin to experience various levels of dismay. Probably the city in the state that will be hit the hardest will be San Diego, because of the heavy military presence in that community. So we thought we had our fiscal house almost in order. But it may not be. So I expect over the next several months that will be one of the major issues we will be dealing with in Sacramento. We will work to adopt the state budget by June.
The school speakers here today from your local districts mentioned some ways the governor is changing how schools are funded. That will also be a major subject of discussion for us in the legislature.
The third major area the state will be engaging in is the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. We are engaged in a special session of the Legislature now to prepare the state as best we can for the implementation of this act.
I chair the committee on Business Professions and Consumer Protection in the state assembly. One of the things we have been looking at is the access to care. We are going to have a lot more people come January 1, 2014 who will have healthcare coverage. They will have a card that says they’re insured. But we won’t have any more doctors, nurses or hospital beds in the State of California to take care of these people. So one of the things we will be looking at is how are the various medical professions defined. What are their roles and responsibilities? Is there a way to adjust those roles and responsibilities in order to provide greater access?
Jerry Hill’s Remarks
Thanks to the League for organizing this wonderful day. This is an opportunity for me to sit with colleagues in public service. I thank all of you for that commitment you’ve made. It’s a thankless service at times and so rewarding at other times.
As my good friend Rich Gordon has said, in Rich’s two years in office he has cut 20 billion dollars . In the fours years I was there it was 47 billion dollars total. So it’s been a struggle. When you look at what’s transpired in Sacramento, certainly the two-thirds vote, the supermajority vote, is very tenable. As you know the Senate lost it’s two-thirds last week with the resignation of Michael Rubio from Bakersfield. So I expect the two-thirds will go up and down for the next few years.
Fortunately — for the critical state priorities, —we do have the resources thanks to your support of Prop 30 and for your support of education. But the three critical issues that I see on the horizon, as Rich said are
1) Implementing the Affordable Care Act. That goal is set for January 1 of 2014. What Rich didn’t mention were the fights that will be going on in his committee over those scopes of medical practice. Doctors and nurses are going to be struggling over who is going to be taking over this little responsibility and who will lose that responsibility. Rich will do a tremendous job as he always does.
2) Education will be a crucial issue this year as we’ve heard. The governor’s local control funding formula is a way of balancing. There has been a problem over the years with education funding. The challenge today is that we have winners and losers among school districts. What we want to see at the end of the day is more winners rather than just different winners and losers each year. I chair the Democratic caucus in the State Senate working closely with Darryl Steinberg the President pro tem. This week we will be spending ten days in a bipartisan effort. The entire Senate will be going to Long Beach on Tuesday, to visit Long Beach High School, and on Wednesday the Long Beach Community College. There are some special unique ways they have been educating their children that we want to get our minds around. When we make the decisions later in the year, we’ll be in a good position to do that.
3) CEQA reform is the third issue the Governor is focusing on. I think that we will see the Senate will — based on legislation that Daryl Steinberg has authored –possibly make some adjustment to CEQA, hopefully making it better at the end of the day. Both Rich and I are committed to preserving CEQA and the great work that it has been doing over the years. But Rich and I will be watching and making some change, if there are some that can refine and improve our California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).
Besides those three critical priorities I’d like to tell you about a few of my other priorities.
I chair the Democratic caucus. I also chair the Banking and Financial Services committee. It’s a good position from which to work on the payday lending problem we have in California.
I now chair the subcommittee of the Utilities and Energy Commission on Gas and Electrical Infrastructure Safety throughout California. That’s been a priority of mine since the tragic explosion in San Bruno of two and half years ago where eight of our neighbors lost their lives. So I’ll be working on that.
One of the issues where the League has been helpful in the past is voting rights. I’m going to reauthor a bill this year. Today 60,000 of our California voters who vote absentee are uncounted. Their vote wasn’t counted in the last election. And the individuals affected have no way of knowing that it didn’t count. You can ask the registrar. They don’t have to tell you. They won’t tell you in most cases. And they don’t let you know when there is a problem. With age, disability, and just over time, your signature changes. It evolves. The problem is that when your ballot signature is reviewed, if your signature is not aligned with the one on record, then that vote doesn’t count. So we are going to be working on that. Those affected people have lost their franchise, and they need to get it back.
Thank you for this opportunity. And thank you to the League.