December 2016 Newsletter

December 15, 2016
December 2016 Newsletter




I am sponsoring a "Cash for College Day" on Jan. 21 at Silver Creek High School to help college-bound students and their families understand the options available for paying for college expenses. All students, regardless of what school they attend, are welcome to this free event.

Students and their families can get personnel and professional assistance with completing their Free Application for Federal Student Aid forms, also known as FAFSA.

Information about resources will be available for foster youth and students eligible for AB 540, also known as the California Dream Act. Assistance with California Dream Act applications will be provided.

There will also be a College Resource Fair with representatives from various Northern California universities, including Stanford, UC-Berkeley, UC-Santa Cruz, San Jose State, De Anza College, Mills College, San Jose City College, Evergreen Valley College, and more.

Saturday, Jan. 21
9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Silver Creek High School
3434 Silver Creek Road, San Jose

For more information or to RSVP, contact the Senate District 15 office, (408) 558-1295, or click here.




On the first day of the new legislative session, I introduced two bills to rejuvenate California's aging transportation infrastructure and build more housing . The bills, if passed, can improve our quality of life while sustaining over 500,000 jobs in construction, trades, and supplies. Many of the jobs will provide middle-class salaries with medical benefits.

These bills attack two of California's most pressing problems -- crumbling roads and the lack of affordable housing - that affect our economy. Long commutes affect the hiring and retention of employees. The continuing shortage of affordable housing has resulted in higher home prices and rising rents, forcing more workers to leave the state. If the state does not take action soon, I believe many employers will look at these problems and decide they might well be better off doing business somewhere else.

We can prevent this scenario by re-investing in our roads and improving the climate for housing construction.

Senate Bill 1 proposes to ramp up additional $6 billion in revenue annually to pay for road repairs and mass transit. The bill readjusts the state's obsolete gas tax and reforms the user-pays system to ensure all motorists contribute their fair share to the maintenance of the roads.

The funding would be generated by adjustments to taxes on gas, diesel, and vehicle fees by:

  • Increasing the per-gallon gas tax by 12 cents in phases over three years; 6 cents the first year to 9 cents in the second year and 12 cents in the third years and restoring the price-based gas excise tax rate to 2010 levels. The two changes would raise $2.9 billion annually.

  • Increasing the diesel excise tax by 20 cents and the sales tax by 4 percent; raising $853 million in revenue annually.

  • Enacting an annually $100 fee on zero-emission vehicles and increase annual registration fee for all vehicles by $38 per vehicle, raising about $1 billion annually.

The revenue raised under SB 1 will be shared on a 50/50 basis by the state and local governments.

The bill would return $500 million in vehicle weight fees currently used for transportation debt service back to road maintenance. The revenue would be gradually returned in $100 million increments over five years.

The bill calls for speeding up the repayment of $706 million in loans made to the General Fund from various transportation-related accounts.

It also increases the Cap and Trade allocation for mass transit, doubling the current allocations for the Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Program and the Low Carbon Transit Operations Program.

SB 1 contains bipartisan reforms such as creating the Office of Transportation Inspector General, an independent agency to ensure transportation funds are used efficiently and in compliance with laws.

The bill also seeks up to $70 million in Caltrans efficiencies and reserves those savings for human-powered transportation, such as bicycle and pedestrian.

Senate Bill 3, the Affordable Housing Bond Act of 2018, provides $3 billion through general obligation bonds to spur more than 90,000 units to help alleviate the state's housing crisis that has hit moderate- to low-income earners the hardest.

The shortage has contributed to the state's homeless population rising by 1.6 percent last year, putting the number at 115,000 people, including families, children, and veterans.

Senate Bill 3's bond revenue will fund successful existing state programs such as Multifamily Housing, CalHome, Joe Serna Jr. farmworker Housing, Local Housing Trust Fund Matching Grant, Building Equity and Growth in Neighborhoods, and promote trans-oriented development and infill infrastructure development. The influx of new revenue will also enable the state to attract federal matching grants and stimulate local economies.

In addition, SB 1 requires the projects funded through it must engage in pre-apprenticeship programs and include low-income and disadvantaged individuals.




One in eight Californians does not know where their next meal is coming from. Over 2 million children are going hungry.

This holiday season, the non-profit Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Clara and San Mateo counties is again conducting food drives to feed the 252,000 people they serve. To learn how you can contribute, please visit

Hunger is a year-around problem for families. I encourage you to contribute whatever you can throughout the year to help those who have less.




In 2007, I co-authored AB 811 to promote energy efficiency, jobs, and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. This bill, signed into law in 2008, made the installation of solar energy equipment affordable for property owners.

AB 811 - also known as "Property Assessed Clean Energy" financing, or PACE -- allows property owners to get low-cost loans through special assessment districts to finance the installation of energy- and water-efficient equipment.

In San Jose, the PACE program is making progress in cutting power bills and pollution. The city's Environmental Services Department reported that from July 1 to Sept. 30, new PACE-financed energy improvements saved 21.7 million kilowatt hours of electricity; 19.4 million gallons of water, and removed over 15,300 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions.

In addition, the retrofitting of energy-efficient equipment and materials under the PACE program has helped create 25,000 jobs statewide.

To learn more about the PACE program, visit CaliforniaFIRST.