February 2013 Newsletter

February 15, 2013


As your new state Senator for District 15, I'm continuing my series of informal coffee meetings that I began years ago as a member of the state Assembly.

These meetings allow residents to speak one-on-one with me on any state-related issue that's on their minds. I'll be meeting with people on a first-come, first-serve basis. My next coffee meeting is scheduled for:

Saturday, Feb. 16
8:30 - 10 a.m.
Coffee Society
Pruneyard Shopping Center
1875 S. Bascom Ave., Campbell


Here's another easy to meet me and my staff: I'll be holding my annual open house at my new district office location in Campbell.

Thursday, March 14
4 - 6:30 p.m.
2105 S. Bascom Ave., Suite 154, Campbell
Light refreshments available
RSVP, click here
For more information, contact the Senate District 15 office, (408) 286-8318.

I'll talk about the new legislative year, explain how my office can help you, and answer your questions.

The new office, centrally located in Senate District 15, provides free parking and easier access for people with disabilities.

I will also maintain a satellite office in downtown San Jose - 100 Paseo De San Antonio, Suite 209 - as a convenient meeting place for residents, community and businesses leaders who live and work in East San Jose, downtown, Willow Glen, the Rose Garden, and other nearby neighborhoods.


My goal is to make a positive difference in lives of Silicon Valley residents. I plan to focus on transportation, jobs, and education. I will also continue to work on issues and legislation to help people with disabilities, seniors, and foster care youth.

Our region needs better roads and transit; it affects commerce and the environment. A recent nationwide study of traffic congestion revealed the typical San Jose driver loses 39 hours a year in traffic delays, costing a commuter about $800 in wasted gas and lost productivity. These dreadful statistics are symptomatic of the state's aging highway system. The state Department of Transportation estimates that almost 30 percent of California's highway system requires repairs - that's 14,000 miles lane miles of highway.

This problem is compounded because funds earmarked to finance improvements -- Proposition 1B bonds and federal stimulus funds -- are drying up. More than ever, the state has to operate more efficiently and reduce waste while identifying and securing long-term funding to pay for repairs and improvements, such as completing the rebuilding of the antiquated Interstate 280-880 interchange near Stevens Creek Boulevard.

Taking care of our highways and expanding urban mass transit - such as bringing BART all the way through San Jose - has an important ancillary benefit: Creating jobs.

The Federal Highway Administration calculates that for every $1 billion spent on roads supports 9,500 construction jobs on-site or at businesses that supply materials and another 4,300 jobs at those industries involved in providing the raw materials for construction. The administration also says the wages spent by those workers go on to help bolster an additional 14,000 jobs.

Our state is projected in 2025 to be short 1 million college graduates who can fill employers' needs for highly skilled workers. We have to solve this problem if California is to maintain its prosperity and leadership in tech innovation. In short, we have to make our state universities and community colleges accessible and affordable.

In the past, I introduced measures for prepaid tuition and to give middle-class families a tax credit for college-related expenses. I will continue to look for opportunities to make college affordable.

California cannot afford to lurch from crisis to crisis. The Legislature has to be proactive in confronting our problems and instituting policies that save taxpayers money in these hard times. Last month, Gov. Brown called an extraordinary session to implement healthcare reform. In the coming months, the Legislature will be holding hearings to evaluate legislation and obtain testimony from stakeholders. I intend to speak out for what is best for our families.

I will fight for full access and affordable treatment of mental disorders and substance abuse. As the chairman of the Senate Mental Health Caucus, I am making it my mission to help my colleagues understand why we must make treatment for mental illness and substance abuse a high priority.

Not only does treatment rescue lives and keep families together, it saves taxpayer dollars. Untreated mental illness costs our nation at least $105 billion in lost productivity. Drugs and alcohol account for half of the deaths in America, according to the Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies at Brown University.

The state Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs found that for each taxpayer dollar spent for treating addicts resulted in $7 in savings for our police, courts, prisons, county jails, and reduced crime.