Signing of the 2017-18 State Budget
State Senator Ben Hueso announced that the Governor signed a balanced 2017-18 State Budget that appropriates record levels of K-12 per-pupil spending, invests in public higher education, saves in the rainy day fund and focuses on significant issues such as improving our roads and transportation, and increasing childcare reimbursement rates. Senator Hueso voted in favor of the Budget Act of 2017, AB 97, which cleared the Senate floor by a vote of 28-10.
During the final vote, Senator Hueso expressed, "I appreciate all of those who worked hard to pass a responsible and financially prudent budget that includes the legislature's top priorities. Our focus continues to be reflective of our constituents' needs, while investing in our state's roads and transportation goals. Today's passage demonstrates a commitment to our well-being and our future."
Highlights of the 2017-18 State Budget include:
- Total General Fund spending of $125 billion.
- Adds nearly $3 billion to education for a total of $74.5 billion.
- $2.8 billion towards improving transportation infrastructure and roads.
- Proposition 56, the new voter approved tobacco revenue will direct $546 million towards healthcare access.
- El Centro CHP office will receive $30.4 million for the design-build phase of their area office.
- Veteran resource centers will receive an additional $5 million.
- Childcare reimbursement rates will be increased by up to 16%.
- Tijuana River Valley will receive a re-appropriation of $2.1 million.
- Denti-Cal benefits will be restored for the first time in nearly a decade.
Senior Scam Stopper Workshop
Senator Hueso hosted a Senior Scam Stopper Workshop in Chula Vista to help seniors learn how to protect themselves, their families and caregivers. Seniors had the opportunity to hear firsthand from various State and County departments on what new trends scammers are using to take advantage of innocent individuals.
During the presentation, the office of Senator Hueso expressed, "We need to be aware of our surroundings at all times. This informational workshop will help seniors and their caregivers protect themselves and the resources that are in place to help."
Panelists included staff from the State of California Department of Insurance, Department of Consumers Affairs Contractors State License Board, California Bureau of Automotive Repair and the San Diego County District Attorney's Office.
Salton Sea Legislation Successfully Passes Assembly Committee
Senator Ben Hueso and the Chair of the Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee, Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia, announced that the Salton Sea policy bills successfully passed out of committee. The legislative proposals would establish both a strategy and funding mechanism to mitigate air quality, public health and threats to ecological habitats surrounding the Salton Sea.
During the committee hearing, Senator Hueso stated, "Addressing the challenges affecting the Salton Sea requires creative solutions and a collaborative effort, which is why I am thrilled that Senate Bill 615, restoration of the Salton Sea and Senate Bill 701 the Salton Sea Obligations Act of 2018, both successfully passed the Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee. The restoration of the Salton Sea has been a top priority for me and I look forward to working with my colleagues to secure the funding necessary to protect this natural habitat."
SB 615, the Salton Sea Restoration Plan would codify the California Natural Resources Agency's 10 year mitigation plan. SB 701, the Salton Sea Obligations Act of 2018 would create a $500 million dollar bond to fund the aforementioned plan.
Assemblymember Garcia expressed at the committee, "Senator Hueso and I have committed to passing a comprehensive plan to mitigate the Salton Sea. This Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee success brings us closer to achieving that goal. The region surrounding the Salton Sea is ripe with renewable energy opportunities and potential economic drivers. We must remain innovative and leverage all available resources. For example, I am proud to have been able to incorporate $30 million sea mitigation funding into AB 18, (E. Garcia, 2017) a California Park Bond initiative currently moving through the legislature."