January 2012 Newsletter

January 19, 2012

COLLEGE TAX CREDIT FOR THE MIDDLE CLASS

On the first day the Legislature reconvened, I introduced Assembly Bill 1441 to give middle-class families a tax credit worth up to $2,000 per student for college-related expenses.

Even in a tough budget year, I believe this bill is needed to help middle-class families who are finding their children being priced out of college. A University of California study last year found the proportion of students from middle-class households had declined in comparison with students from low-income families and families with incomes of $149,000 or more.

The idea for AB 1441 came from parents who told me about their anger and frustration over the rising costs at community colleges and California State University and University of California campuses.

My bill proposes a $500 tax credit per eligible student for each taxable year for college expenses, such as tuition, books, etc. The total per eligible student would be capped at $2,000. The credit applies to students enrolled at public community colleges and state universities, not private colleges.

Families with a modified adjusted gross income of $80,001 to $140,000 would qualify for the credit. The University of California-Berkeley adopted this same income range when it announced it would limit its costs for middle-class students at 15 percent of household income.

Currently, students who either earn or are supported by families with annual incomes of $80,000 or less are eligible for state and federal financial aid and grants.

 

THE BUDGET

This year, the state faces a projected $9.2 billion deficit. Gov. Brown proposes to balance the bulk of the deficit with $4.2 billion in cuts combined with $4.7 billion in increased revenues.

The Governor’s proposal represents a start in the budget process. I am concerned about the size of the recommended budget cuts and I am studying all of its ramifications while continuing to gather more facts. I think a very important factor will be the revenue figures we get in April. It will give legislators a better idea of the state’s fiscal health.

He is proposing an initiative for the November ballot, asking voters to approve a temporary 1 to 2 percent tax increase on residents with the highest incomes and a temporary 0.5 percent increase in the sales and use tax.

This year, the state faces a projected $9.2 billion deficit. Gov. Brown proposes to balance the bulk of the deficit with $4.2 billion in cuts combined with $4.7 billion in increased revenues.

The Governor’s proposal represents a start in the budget process. I am concerned about the size of the recommended budget cuts and I am studying all of its ramifications while continuing to gather more facts. I think a very important factor will be the revenue figures we get in April. It will give legislators a better idea of the state’s fiscal health.

He is proposing an initiative for the November ballot, asking voters to approve a temporary 1 to 2 percent tax increase on residents with the highest incomes and a temporary 0.5 percent increase in the sales and use tax.

If the Governor’s proposal fails, $5.4 billion in cuts would begin on Jan. 1 next year:

  • $4.9 billion to K-14 education.
  • $200 million each to the University of California and the California State University system.
  • $125 million to courts.
  • $15 million to the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection’s firefighting units.
  • $6.6 million to flood control programs.
  • $4.5 million to state parks and beaches.
  • $1 million to the Department of Justice’s law enforcement programs.

For years now, the state has had to balance expenditures as revenue dropped because of a sluggish economy. Since I arrived at the Assembly in December 2006, general fund spending has dropped by more than 19 percent from $106 billion to about $86 billion.

 

ASSEMBLY DISTRICT 24 OPEN HOUSE

My annual District Office Open House is soon approaching. It’s scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 9, from 4 to 6 p.m. Please visit and meet my staff and me; find out how my office can help you. Light refreshments will be available.

The District Office is located at 100 Paseo De San Antonio, Suite 319, in downtown San Jose. To view a map location, click here.

Please RSVP by either clicking here or by phoning the District Office staff at (408) 282-8920.


MY EDUCATION CORNER

Study after study confirms how important quality early education is in the development of a child.

In an era of budget cutting, California recently received welcome news when the U.S. Department of Education announced it would award a $52.6 million Race to the Top Early Learning grant to the state. California was one of nine states chosen to receive a grant. Thirty-five states submitted proposals to the competitive grant program.

The money will be channeled into the creation of a rating system of participating child development agencies, enabling parents to find the best pre-school providers. The ratings would be based on common standards for teacher effectiveness, parent engagement, and learning environment. Regional teams, comprised of experts such as local First Five Commissions and county offices of education, would devise the rating system for their area.

Over time, the ratings are expected to raise the bar for preschools and child-care providers through competition based on quality. In addition, the local groups involved in the ratings process will offer training and guidance to push pre-school and child-care providers to improve the quality of their programs.