December 2015 Newsletter
Do you have questions or concerns about a state issue? Please join me for one of my community coffee meetings. These informal get-togethers allow you to meet with me for a one-on-one dialogue. My next community coffee is scheduled for:
Friday, Jan. 22
11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The Sweet Corner
989 Story Road, San Jose
(Located at the rear of the Vietnam Town mall)
Individual meetings are held on a first-come, first-served basis. Your time with me can be limited due to the number of people who wish to speak to me.
CASH FOR COLLEGE
The hardest part about college isn't gaining admission or passing classes. It's paying for college.
To ensure families clearly understand how they can cover the cost of college for their students and what financial assistance is available to them, I am co-sponsoring the Cash for College South Bay Kick-Off. The California Student Opportunity and Access Program is also co-sponsoring this event.
CASH FOR COLLEGE SOUTH BAY KICK-OFF
Saturday, Jan. 23; 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Overfelt High School
1835 Cunningham Ave., San Jose
Parents and students can get personal and professional assistance with completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid form, also known as FAFSA. Undocumented immigrant students and foster care youth can learn what resources are available to them. In addition, representatives from local colleges will answer questions.
The event also has an added component, a College Fair, geared toward all high school students who are getting ready to apply for college acceptance next fall. On hand will be representatives from local universities and community colleges to answer your questions.
California needs more college graduates to keep its economy moving forward. Projections show the state will have a shortage of 1 million college-educated workers by 2025. To increase the number of college graduates, the Legislature approved higher funding to allow 15,000 more in-state students to attend our public universities. In addition, I supported the approval of a $216 million increase to the California State University's budget, the largest investment in over decade.
My work on transportation issues ranges from finding solutions for California's biggest problem, repairing the state's aging transportation infrastructure, to addressing a Senate District 15 neighborhood's concerns about litter on Caltrans property.
During the legislative recess, I have been meeting with lawmakers, both Republicans and Democrats, and listening to their ideas on how to solve a combined $137 billion backlog in deferred maintenance for state and local roads. Unless the state responds to this challenge, more of our transportation infrastructure will be beyond repair and necessitate rebuilding, a process that can be six to 14 times more costly.
The poor condition of our roads is attributable to two main factors:
- Inflation has robbed the gas tax, one of the state's main sources of road maintenance funding, of its purchasing power. The last time the gas tax was adjusted occurred more than 20 years ago.
- Less gas is being purchased despite more cars than ever on the roads. Consumption is going down because of fuel-efficient vehicles and so is revenue for road maintenance. In 2006, there were 19.6 million registered vehicles in California versus about 33.5 million today. According to the Board of Equalization, drivers purchased 15.8 billion gallons in 2006 compared with 14.7 billion in 2014.
As chairman of the special session's Senate's Transportation and Infrastructure Development Committee, I convened hearings in Sacramento and Ontario with my Assembly colleagues to gather more information from transportation experts and the public.
But I focus on local transportation issues, too. For example, I take action on complaints from residents about the condition of our local freeways and I am also analyzing how we can safely revitalize surplus state property along roads for a better public use.
To identify and prioritize the most urgent maintenance requests, I've organized a work group comprised of Caltrans representatives and locally elected officials, whose jurisdictions overlap with Senate District 15. For example, I partnered with a local councilmember to hold a clean-up on the East side of my district and bring Caltrans clean-up crews out to the freeway on-and off ramps on King Road and Alum Rock Avenue.
During the year, the working group facilitated the completion of 19 of the most egregious sites on Interstate 680 near Alum Rock Avenue, Capitol Expressway, and McKee Road resulting in either the removal of garbage; the pruning of roadside foliage; eradicating graffiti; or moving out homeless encampments dangerously located along freeway on- and off-ramps.
In addition, I am evaluating whether vacant Caltrans property in East San Jose - near 33rd Street and E. San Antonio Road, and another location at Havana Road -- can be safely converted into micro parks, small oases of greenery to provide respite.
In other areas of my district, we have removed graffiti from sound walls and road signs on Highway 85. At Highway 280 in the vicinity of San Tomas Expressway and Winchester-Moorpark, a vacant property was covered with overgrown brush and vegetation and a homeless encampment beset with sanitation problems had settled there. Residents were concerned the brush was becoming a screen able that conveniently hid the expanding encampment. The work group got the vegetation trimmed and the homeless were referred to services. This was a great outcome for residents living in the area and another example of a collaborative effort with our local Caltrans office.
SENATE FELLOWSHIPS AND INTERSHIPS
The 2016-2017 California Senate Fellows program is accepting applications. The deadline is Feb. 8. Fellows will be assigned to the personal staff or committee staff of a Senator for 11 months. They receive a monthly stipend of $2,600 plus medical, dental, and vision benefits. For more information or to apply, visit the Senate Fellows website.
In addition, my Senate District 15 office in Campbell offers internships to capable college and high school students who are interested in how state government works and the issues that affect California.
Among an intern's responsibilities are data entry; research; handling inquiries from constituents; community outreach, such as staffing events and projects; the ability to work a few hours at an occasional weekend or evening event; and more.
The qualities and skills we look for in applicants are excellent writing; initiative; deductive thinking; reliability; good interpersonal skills; proficiency in typing, Microsoft Word, and Excel.
Hours are flexible. The internship is an unpaid position.
If you're interested please contact Senate District 15 Senior Field Representative Domingo Candelas by email or call (408) 558-1295.