June 2010 E-Newsletter

April 18, 2011

Neighborhood Meet-Up

Have a question about a state issue? Let’s talk about it.
Meet me:
June 12, Saturday, 9-10:30 a.m.
Willow Glen Roasting Company
1383 Lincoln Ave, San Jose

Budget Update

Three different budget proposals are on the table in Sacramento with different solutions to balance California’s $17.9 billion deficit.

The Governor’s plan relies on severe cuts, especially to core safety net programs. He would also cut K-12 funding and funnel low-level prison inmates into local jails at the counties’ cost.

The linchpin of his budget calls for eliminating CalWorks, the welfare-to-work program that helps 1.4 million needy Californians, a total that includes 900,000 children.

In addition, the Governor slashes $637 million from the In-Home Support Service, a program that allows hundreds of thousands of frail Californians to live in their homes with the help of visiting aides instead of being institutionalized at much higher costs.

The leaders in the State Senate propose extending a temporary 0.25 percent tax increase by two years, raising the alcohol tax and the Vehicle License Fee, delay tax breaks for businesses by two years. The proposal avoids drastic reductions in essential safety net services.

The Assembly leadership unveiled a plan that proposes a $10.1 billion stimulus bill to save and create more jobs, public and private. Most of the seed money would be borrowed from the California Beverage Recycling Fund.

This plan would institute an oil severance tax to raise $900 million annually. California is the only oil-producing state that does not tax petroleum companies for taking this precious natural resource out of the ground and selling it across state lines.

Like the Senate plan, the Assembly plan would also delay temporary tax increases and postpone tax breaks, saving $5 billion. Unlike the Governor’s plan, the Assembly plan would not cut lower education and repay local governments that have seen their revenue streams shared with the state.

Here’s my litmus test for any budget proposal: It has to be good for our economy. It has to create jobs or, at the least, protect them.

Because of that, I view the Governor’s package as ill-conceived and self-defeating. His cuts to CalWorks and IHSS have many adverse consequences. Here are four that really concern me:

  • 430,000 jobs, predominately private and some in the public sector, will be lost at a time of high unemployment.
  • California will lose crucial federal funding that helps our economy and reduces our state costs.

    The Governor would terminate 20,000 jobs subsidized with federal dollars though the CalWorks program. By ending CalWorks, the state loses $3.5 billion in matching federal funds in 2010-11 and another $3.8 billion in 2011-12 -- money that would find its way into our businesses.
  • Tens of thousands of IHSS clients will be forced into more costly institutionalized care, such as nursing homes, at taxpayer expense.
  • Eliminating CalWorks will splinter families, increase homelessness, and add more children to the over-burdened foster care system.

I think we must find ways to increase revenue without asking state taxpayers to give more. In key committees, I’ve made recommendations for new ways to draw more federal dollars into California.

Our state only receives a paltry 78 cents for each taxpayer dollar it sends to Washington whereas New Mexico gets $2.03 per dollar; Alaska, $1.84; and Pennsylvania, $1.07.  If we can just get our fair share from the federal government it will go a long way toward closing our deficit.

For example, California’s five-year-old Medi-Cal Waiver agreement with the federal government expires on Aug 31. This agreement has pumped nearly $4 billion into California to defray the costs of uncompensated medical care, especially at our public hospitals. Yet, our public hospitals have provided nearly $10.5 billion in unpaid care to patients during the past five years.

Since January, I have been discussing with the California Department of Health Care Services about how we can obtain perhaps $2 billion more in federal funds through the new waiver. The additional money would go a long way to stabilizing public hospitals, the backbone of medical care in California.

The new budget is a long ways from being completed. It will be a summer of tough negotiations – for all sides. If you have any thoughts or ideas on how to balance the budget, please e-mail me: click here.

Summer Camps, Jobs, Activities

The school year is over and summer’s here. Parents are looking for fun activities and camps for their kids. High school students and graduates are searching for employment. Here are a few suggestions:

Work2Future offers a program for low-income youth ages 15 to 17, connecting them with summer jobs in government and with non-profit agencies. Call 408-794-1224 for more information. For those youth who do not meet the income eligibility requirements, there is also a Youth Services Program for ages 16 to 24 at no cost. Career counseling, job training in a variety of fields, and work readiness skills development are all available for qualifying youth. For more information call the Youth Hotline at 408-794-1156.

Nurture your teen’s sense of community. Many local nonprofits can always use an extra hand during the summer such as the Second Harvest Food Bank. Check their website. Choose an area that interests you and make your summer meaningful by helping others.

It’s not too late to register for a summer camp. The City of San Jose offers a wide range of camps for all ages. Whatever your children are interested in - ballet karate, painting, computers, piano - there is a class for it. Beware, classes fill up fast. For more information on classes, registration, click here or call the summer programs customer line at 408-793-5565. Walk-in registration is available at any City of San Jose Community Center.

Combine fun with learning at the Children's Discovery Museum in downtown San Jose. Tickets are $10 per person. The museum also operates the Summer of Service Day Camp for students entering grades 7-10. Teens can help out with museum activities, mentor pre-schoolers, or work on environmentally friendly projects. Click to apply. And don’t overlook the Guadalupe River Park, a perfect spot for a relaxing outdoor picnic before or after a museum visit.

Just a few blocks away from Discovery Museum is the Tech Museum of Innovation. Hands-on exhibits make science and tech accessible to kids of all ages. Tickets are $10 per person, and include admission to one IMAX movie.

Nourish young minds this summer through the San Jose Public Library summer reading program. This year's themes - Make a Splash, READ! for younger children and Make Waves at Your Library for teens - emphasize the joy and life-long rewards of reading. To participate, visit the Summer Reading Celebration site, choose the appropriate age level program, and register. Kids can track their progress and even claim a prize when they reach their goals.

Don’t forget our parks. Almaden Lake Park offers up volleyball and bocce ball courts, horseshoe pits, boating, and of course, swimming. Hike or bike through the foothills of the Diablo Range nestled in Alum Rock Park, the first municipal park in California. Emma Prusch Farm Park serves as a 47-acre home to a livestock barn, community garden plots, and a rare fruit orchard. Each of these parks have plenty of wide open space for picnics, outdoor games, or even some leisurely kite flying.

For toddlers, there’s Kelley Park’s newly renovated Happy Hollow, chock full of amusing rides and animal exhibits. Just a short walk away is History Park, a loving re-creation of San Jose during the early 20th century, replete with a working trolley, livery stable, fire house, and soda fountain.