February 2014 Newsletter
On January 9, Governor Jerry Brown released his 2014-2015 proposed budget, kicking-off the state's five-month budget process that will allocate an estimated $106 billion in state and special fund revenues. Both houses of the Legislature will now conduct an independent review of the proposal, await additional executive branch revisions and revenue numbers in May, and agree upon a finalized plan in June.
As the state receives a clearer picture of its actual revenue in May, it's anticipated that the Legislature will be in a better position to identify and act on spending it can restore and investments it can make in the final budget. In good news for K-12 education, the proposed budget offers a sizable increase in the Prop. 98 guarantee, and raises per-pupil spending in the state by $848. It adds $4.5 billon to continued implementation of the Local Control Funding Formula, last year's shift in the way California distributes K-12 education funding.
This month in Senate District 40, our Community Spotlight shines on Alex Montoya. Mr. Montoya is the Director of Latino Relations for the San Diego Padres. He is also a motivational speaker about issues pertaining to success, education and overcoming disability obstacles. His debut book, Swinging for the Fences: Choosing To Live an Extraordinary Life, was released by Tate Publishing 2008. Join me in congratulating Alex for all his amazing accomplishments! And please feel free to contact our office with any questions you may have about our legislative process or about the information that you find in this newsletter.
Community Spotlight: Alex Montoya
As the Director of Latino Relations for the San Diego Padres, Mr. Montoya is responsible for coordinating the team's Latino marketing and charitable outreach to the Latino community in San Diego County and Mexico. It is an area Montoya knows well after seven years with the San Diego County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. He is also involved in motivational speaking through Turnkey Strategic Relations about issues pertaining to success, education and overcoming disability obstacles. He has written two books through Tate Publishing. His debut book, Swinging for the Fences: Choosing to Live an Extraordinary Life, was released in 2008 and has sold over 1,000 copies. A second book, The Finish Line, was released in 2012.
In his personal time, Montoya enjoys reading, avidly watching sports, and has completed several endurance races, including two San Diego Rock ‘n' Roll Marathon relay teams. When you see him in the community, which will be soon, please help me congratulate him for all his accomplishments!
School Fire Safety Roundtable Discussion (Chula Vista, CA)
Our children deserve safe schools, and our community deserves to know that the fire safety systems at our schools are properly installed, operational, tested and up-to-code. For this reason, I hosted a community school fire safety roundtable discussion at Chula Vista High School.
During this forum, we discussed how the state regulates fire safety at school sites, steps to make schools even safer and fire alarm system inspections. Our panel included the State Fire Marshal and local fire chiefs from Chula Vista, San Diego and National City. The discussion also included school officials from Sweetwater Union High School District, Chula Vista Elementary School District and San Diego Unified. Representatives of the Division of the State Architect, which oversees compliance with fire and life safety codes at school sites, were also in attendance.
My hope is to continue to raise awareness on the issue and develop strong policies that will further protect our children and schools.
For more information please visit: http://www.10news.com/news/investigations/team-10-fire-alarm-investigations-lead-to-possible-statewide-changes-013114
San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce Binational Trade Forum
I had the opportunity to participate in the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce's binational trade forum, hosted by the Mexico Business Center, an advocacy arm of the San Diego Chamber. The goal of the event was to bring together binational elected officials and business leaders to exchange ideas for boosting binational trade and fostering a cross-border shared identity. Themes discussed at the event, titled "Cross-Border Visions for 2014," included shrinking border-wait times, spurring tourism and business creation in both Mexico and California, and rebuilding a cross-border rail line.
As we continue to push our Enhanced Driver's License bill along with other policies that improve border infrastructure and tourism for business and economic development, the Chamber's Mexico Business Center will be an important resource to our office as we work to achieve our binational goals.
Read more at: http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2014/jan/31/baja-border-san-diego-chamber-commerce-california/
Hunger Advocacy Network Recognition (San Diego, CA)
I was honored to have been recognized by the Hunger Advocacy Network for our work on SB 134, the No Hunger for Heroes Act. This bill was signed into law by Governor Brown last year. It prevents counties from denying food assistance to unemployed veterans and instructs counties to refer veterans to local offices and training agencies that specifically cater to veteran needs. The event included the Hunger Advocacy Network partners Feeding America San Diego, the Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank, the Childhood Obesity Initiative and the San Diego Hunger Coalition.
Given my avid interest in maps, I was both humbled and thrilled to have received a map of San Diego County along with this recognition. Thank you, Hunger Advocacy Network!
More at: http://sandiegofoodbank.org/san-diego-based-advocacy-coalition-honors-senator-ben-hueso/
State of Emergency: Drought
Citing a record dry 2013 and a current snowpack that is 20 percent of normal, Governor Jerry Brown declared an official drought State of Emergency on January 17.
The declaration allows officials to assist farmers and communities that are economically impacted by dry conditions and ensures that the state can respond if Californians face water shortages. State water officials will also have more flexibility to manage water supply throughout the state under the official declaration, and state agencies were directed to initiate immediate conservation measures.
Mandatory household, commercial or agricultural conservation was not part of the state's general preparation at this time, although many local water agencies have begun those more aggressive steps. Consumers should contact their local water agency about any mandatory conservation steps being implemented at the local level.
As part of California's drought preparedness, the state will also hire more firefighters to combat an increased risk of dangerous wildfires due to dry conditions, as well as initiate an expanded water conservation public awareness campaign - Save our H2O.
The campaign's indoor tips include water saving steps to take in the kitchen, bathroom and laundry room, such as running the dishwasher only when full, and turning water off when brushing teeth or shaving to save approximately 10 gallons per day.
Outside tips address lawn and garden care, car and sidewalk washing and drought resistant planting. They include using a broom to clean driveways, sidewalks and patios instead of a hose, and choosing a water-efficient irrigation system such as drip irrigation for your trees, shrubs and flowers.
February is Black History Month
In February, communities and schools across the nation will focus on the history of African-Americans, as we recognize Black History Month. This year's theme is Civil Rights in America.
This year's theme marks fifty years of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. At the conclusion of the March on Washington, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech, a watershed moment in American history. To commemorate the march, the Library of Congress is offering an exhibition, "A Day Like No Other."
The march was part of the broader civil rights era, where Americans who knew only the potential of "equal protection of the laws" expected the U.S. government to fulfill the promise of the 14th Amendment. Along these lines, in 1964, Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Its provisions forbade discrimination on the basis of sex and race in hiring, promoting and firing. In the final legislation, Section 703 (a) made it unlawful for an employer to, "fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions or privileges or employment, because of such individual's race, color, religion, sex, or national origin."
The National Education Association offers a resource page to help school teachers of all grade levels plan appropriate lessons on African American history. Additional resources can be found on the federal government's multi-agency website africanamericanhistorymonth.gov.
California Leading the Way in Wind Power
Accounting for 4.9 percent of electric power in the state, California's wind power industry has been propelled by new wind turbine installations and at least 20 wind-related manufacturing facilities according to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA).
The state has historically been a leader in wind power. In 2012 California ranked second in the U.S. for wind power installations and wind industry jobs. The Golden State has installed more than 1,600 megawatts of wind powered electric generating capacity and more than 7,000 people are employed in the state's wind industry.
Driving California's wind energy production is California's Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) which is one of the most ambitious renewable energy standards in the country. Established in 2002 under Senate Bill 1078, and modified in later legislation, it mandates state electricity corporations to expand their renewable portfolio to 33 percent of generated power by 2020.
Nationally, wind energy production grew 28 percent. In 2012, installation of wind power leveraged $25 billion in private investment in the U.S. According to AWEA, Texas, California, Kansas, Oklahoma and Illinois were the top five states for new wind power capacity installations in 2012.