June 2009 E-Newsletter

April 18, 2011

THE TOUGHEST BUDGET

There are heart-breaking decisions to be made this month in Sacramento. The Governor says state revenue has fallen by an astronomical 27 percent this year and he is calling for an "all cuts" budget to solve the deficit.

There isn't much doubt that cuts and consolidation of redundant state agencies will be approved in the aftermath of the decisive defeat of propositions on the May Special Election ballot. But how deep will these cuts be? Can California actually survive more than $24 billion in cuts to balance its budget?

Should we close 220 of our 279 state parks as proposed by the Governor? Should we end Cal Grants that help low-income students attend college? Should we halt funding that provides health insurance for more than 900,000 children? Should we totally eliminate CalWorks, the anti-poverty program that helps unemployed households get back to work? Should we cut more than $6 billion from our schools after taking billions from them in February?

Our need for critical social and human services have risen more than ever, a sadly predictable outcome due to our high unemployment. Between September and January, more than 24,000 people in Santa Clara County sought public assistance, a 57 percent increase, the San Jose Mercury News reported.

As bad as times are, I find it disturbing to consider proposals that raise the number of the uninsured; make it tougher for the unemployed poor to enter the mainstream of society as a taxpayer; and robs our students of their dreams. We cannot treat people's lives as if they are disposable objects.

Make no mistake, these serious cuts are on the table at the State Capitol. Conspicuously absent is any discussion about the billions in troubling tax breaks that were granted to special interests during the 11th hour of budget negotiations circumventing public debate at open committee hearings. These tax breaks were given out in order to gain a necessary two-thirds majority to pass a budget.

Our poorest, oldest, most infirm, and youngest citizens are being asked or forced to shoulder most of the $24 billion in cuts. But what sacrifices are the corporate beneficiaries of these massive tax cuts being asked to make?

According to a recent Mercury News article, the tax breaks given in September and February "will cost the state as much as $2.5 billion in revenues at a time when lawmakers are contemplating eliminating programs for the poor.''

Let's stop giving away back-door tax breaks as ransom to pass a budget. All proposed tax breaks must go through the normal deliberative process in open committee meetings.

During these extraordinary times, the Legislature must explore every option before making drastic cuts that will hurt people.

I am encouraging my colleagues to consider:

  • Cutting administrative overhead.
    Let's cut out all unnecessary layers of management and plow those savings into services.
  • Examining consultant contracts.
    The state spends $2 billion annually for outside private consultants who are doing jobs that can be handled by state employees.
  • Ending tax loopholes.
    We evaluate our tax structure and analyze each tax break that personal income tax filers don't qualify for.

    We need to determine: Which tax breaks are justified? Do they stimulate our economy? How widespread are their benefits? How much of a burden does it place on the average taxpayer?

All I ask is that in this particularly painful budget year is that the pain be spread equitably - to not do so would be patently unfair.


HAVING A SAFE AND SOBER GRADUATION NIGHT

June is Sober Graduation Month, and the California Highway Patrol (CHP) and the California Chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) are teaming up together to promote sober and drug-free festivities for graduates because statistics show that too many teens end their special day in tragedy.

According to National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, in 2004, persons under 21 constituted 22.5% of fatal traffic crashes involving alcohol. Since Sober Graduation's establishment in 1985, the number of teen alcohol-related collisions has dramatically declined.

Here are a few ideas for planning a sober graduation night:

  • Arrange transportation to an event, arcade, or athletic event.
  • Host a theme party, plan a carnival, or rent an entertainment venue.
  • Plan an all-night bowling or dance "marathon."

Sober Grad Nights provide a safe and fun time for graduates to celebrate with their friends. For more information about Sober Graduation Month visit http://www.chp.ca.gov/community/impaired_driving.html.




UPCOMING EVENTS

Festival of Books
Saturday, June 13
10 a.m. -- 1 p.m.
Valley Specialty Center at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center
751 S. Bascom Ave.
San Jose


This free event - dedicated to promoting literacy among children - is sponsored by the Valley Medical Center Foundation's Reach Out and Read program. Activities include an organized story time, crafts, and creating books. Snacks and free books will be available.

Festival in the Park - Where Wellness Meets Fun!
Sunday, June 20
11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Hellyer County Park
985 Hellyer Ave.
San Jose


This festival is designed to educate and inspire people to take charge of their health by eating nutritiously and keeping fit. The event is sponsored by the Santa Clara County Parks, the Recreation Department with Kaiser Permanente-San Jose, and the Santa Clara County Public Health Department. A host of health care providers will offer exhibits, demonstrations, activities, and performances about living well.