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Senator Darrell Steinberg
F e b r u a r y2 0 1 0E - N e w s l e t t e r

Dear Neighbor:

With the month of February upon us, the Senate is working diligently to close the current year budget shortfall by the February 22nd deadline. While we still face a difficult road ahead, we are doing everything we can to reduce the impact on everyday Californians.

Last month, I traveled to Washington D.C. with Governor Schwarzenegger and other legislative leaders seeking agreements with our federal partners to increase investments critical to California’s road to economic recovery. I went to make the case about the real life impact of cuts we’ve already been forced to make. I met with Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senators Boxer and Feinstein, the bipartisan congressional delegation, and Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius. While these meetings were productive and promising, I am happy to be home in Sacramento and getting to work on this difficult budget.

As always, please contact me or my staff with any of your needs – we are here to serve you. My district offices can be reached at (916) 651-1529 (Downtown Sacramento Office) or (916) 338-6577 (North Highlands Office).

In this e-newsletter please read about:

  • Reaction to the Governor’s Proposed Budget
  • First Time Homebuyer Credit Extension
  • Legislative Analyst Office Report on Furloughs
  • Census 2010 is Around the Corner
  • WE Connect Offers Low Income Assistance
  • Supporting the ALS Tax Check-Off
  • Single-Payer Health Care
  • Redistricting Update
  • Working to Solve Unemployment Insurance Issues
  • Lunar New Year - Year of the Tiger

Sincerely,

Darrell Steinberg, Senate President pro Tempore
6th Senate District


Reaction to the Governor’s Proposed Budget

Governor Schwarzenegger started the new year by releasing his proposed budget for 2010-2011. The proposal identified a $19.9 billion shortfall between now and the end of the next fiscal year. An archived web video of the Governor’s press conference is available on his website and the Governor’s budget summary document (PDF) is also available for download.

I discussed my reaction to the proposed budget in an op-ed in the San Jose Mercury News.

Assembly Speaker Karen Bass, Assembly Budget Chair Noreen Evans, and Senate Budget Chair Denise Ducheny, joined with me in responding to the Governor’s budget proposal in a press conference (transcript).


First time homebuyer credit extension

Home for sale

The First Time Homebuyer Credit has been extended through April 20, 2010. A credit of up to $6,500 is now available to current homeowners who buy new principal residences. These homeowners must have lived in their previous homes for a five-year period. Other eligibility requirements include:

  • New home costs no more than $800,000
  • Individual buyers must have income of $125,000 or less
  • Joint tax-filers must have combined income of $225,000 or less

LAO Report on Furloughs

Some of this LAO report was troubling. What has been missing over the past year is the Administration actively engaging with the workers to meet the budget target but in a more fair way. If the governor wants to save $1.6 billion from state operations, he needs to sit down with the employees and negotiate in good faith to find the savings. For the legislature to even think about imposing a pay cut would be inappropriate, unlawful, and contrary to long term budget savings. Sit down, negotiate, and work it out.

Several cases dealing with furlough orders for state employees are pending in the state’s courts. Information on state employee furloughs can be found on the Department of Personnel website.


Census 2010 is Around the Corner

The 2010 U.S. Census is around the corner. In March, every household in the United States will receive a census form in the mail that families are required to fill out. The data collected on the form determines how much federal funding communities receive for the next ten years. The Census form contains just ten questions and takes just ten minutes to complete.

You may have questions about whether or not the information submitted on the form can be used for other purposes. It can not. In fact, it’s a crime for the Census Bureau to share information with anyone, including federal agencies and law enforcement. The information submitted is only used for statistical purposes - confidentiality is the law.

If there is an undercount in our state, all Californians will suffer. The state will not receive our fair portion of over $400 billion in federal funds for schools, hospitals, roads and public safety. California could even lose a representative in Congress, diminishing our voice in Washington.

To watch a PSA on the Census click here.

For more information on the Census, click here.


WE Connect Offers Low Income Assistance

The WE Connect Program offers California families assistance making ends meet. The one-stop web portal offers information on tax credits, as well as discounts for utility bills and auto insurance.

WE Connect includes offerings like the CARE Program, which gives a 20 percent discount on utility bills for low and fixed income households, and the Child Tax Credit which may offer needy guardians up to $1,000 if they have a child, stepchild, adopted child, grandchild, or great grandchild under the age of 17. Additionally, the California Lifeline Telephone Program can provide low-income families with discounted home phone service.

WE Connect also offers information on the Earned Income Tax Credit. The EITC provides low income working families a tax credit of up to $4,824 per year.


Supporting the ALS Tax Check-off

ALS, better known as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease,” is a progressive neurodegenerative disease affecting motor neurons in the brain and the spinal cord.

It’s estimated more than 5,600 Americans are diagnosed with ALS every year, with some 30,000 Americans suffering from the disease at any given time. Most survive only two-to-five years after diagnosis. In addition, research shows military veterans are 60 percent more at risk of being diagnosed with ALS than the general population, although the reason remains a mystery.

Currently, as a result of SB 1502 (which I authored in 2008), taxpayers can contribute to The ALS Association and its research for a cure by checking off the ALS/Lou Gehrig’s Disease Research Fund box on their tax return forms and designating a minimum donation of $1. Last year, taxpayers contributed $220,401 to The ALS Association.

However, this year The ALS Association must meet the minimum contribution requirement of
$250,000 or the fund will be eliminated as one of the optional donations on tax returns.


Senate passes SB 810 (Leno), single-payer health care

On January 28th, the Senate passed SB 810 (Leno). While a single-payer heath care system is a long way off, this bill serves to keep alive the California State Legislature’s debate over healthcare reform.

I urged my colleagues to support the measure because controlling the skyrocketing costs of healthcare in our state is essential to the economic well-being of Californians and our businesses – particularly small businesses.

If the state’s top priorities are creating jobs, helping private businesses grow and prosper, and jumpstarting our economy, we have to work together to comprehensively reform the status quo which is destroying economic opportunity in California.

Click here to watch my comments on YouTube.


Redistricting Update

The State Auditor is accepting applications from citizens who wish to serve on the Citizens Redistricting Commission. The application deadline closes on February 12, 2010.

The Auditor has received over 5,000 applications, but diversity is severely lacking in the current applicant pool. For example, approximately 78 percent of the applicants are white, approximately 72 percent are male, and 31 percent are from the Sacramento region. Therefore, the Auditor’s office is actively seeking applications from diverse populations to ensure the Commission itself is representative of California’s diversity.

Constituents interested in applying should go to the State Auditor’s Redistricting website.


Working to Solve Unemployment Insurance Issues

After President Obama announced the federal government had extended unemployment benefits last November, the California Employment Development Department was ill-equipped to handle the estimated 119,000 checks to get benefits to those who needed them the most.

The Legislature is currently working on increased resources and other solutions to correct problems with the EDD, and to help address your UI issues.

EDD is responsible for the administration of the Unemployment and Insurance Program (UI) for those workers who lose their jobs through no fault of their own. The EDD website has information on filing for your UI benefits, including a video on how to apply.

Lunar New Year - Year of the Tiger

Lunar New Year

The Lunar New Year is the most celebrated holiday in the Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese cultures. The Year of the Tiger begins with the new moon on February 14th, Lunar New Year 4708. The Chinese calendar incorporates a 12 year cycle, and Chinese folklore attached an animal to each year. The tiger is the third animal in the twelve animal cycle, and horoscopes developed around the animal signs indicate someone born in the Year of the Tiger is sensitive, emotional, aggressive and sincere.

Food and family are an important part of the Lunar New Year celebration. Various traditions of families doing a thorough house cleaning, lighting firecrackers, and giving gifts of red packets containing money are meant to bid farewell to the past and welcome prosperity for the coming year.

The following event will take place in Sacramento to celebrate the Lunar New Year.
WHEN: February 13 – 14, Saturday – Sunday. Opens at 10 a.m.
WHERE: 6525 Florin Road
MORE INFO: http://www.sacandco.net/story.aspx?storyid=72678&catid=310
or call Senator Steinberg’s District Office at (916) 338-6577

Gung Hay Fat Choy!


February Events Calendar

WHAT: Cash for College
WHEN: Several dates from February 2, 2010 to February 17, 2010.
WHERE: Various locations throughout Sacramento
MORE INFO: Click here for specific dates, times and locations
or call Senator Steinberg's District Office at (916) 338-6577

WHAT: Go Red for Women Day Celebration with the American Heart Association
WHEN: Friday, Feb 5th, 2010, 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
WHERE: Arden Fair Mall 
MORE INFO: It will be a fun and educational day, featuring live entertainment and free health screenings. Click here to contact the AHA Sacramento Division.

WHAT: Super Saturday/Sunday Tax Assistance
WHEN: February 6, 2010 to February 7, 2010.
WHERE: Various locations throughout Sacramento
MORE INFO: Click here for specific dates, times and locations
or call Senator Steinberg's District Office at (916) 338-6577


WHAT: Free Museum Day
WHEN: Saturday, Feb 6, 2010, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
WHERE: Twenty-five participating museums
MORE INFO: Click here for participating museums and hours  
or call Senator Steinberg’s District Office at (916) 338-6577

WHAT: Super Bowl Widows Party
WHEN: Sunday, Feb 7th, 2010, 12:00p to 4:00 p.m.
WHERE: Sacramento Central Library
MORE INFO: Click here for more information  

WHAT: Take part in Spay Day
WHEN: Tuesday, Feb 28, 2010,
MORE INFO: Organize or volunteer at an event or spay or neuter your pet. Click here for more information on how you can get involved. For additional information and to download spay or neuter vouchers for low-income pet owners click here.



California State Senator Darrell Steinberg - Sixth Senate District
Representing the Capital Region
Web site: http://sd06.senate.ca.gov/
E-mail: Senator Darrell Steinberg
Capitol Office
State Capitol, Room 205
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: (916) 651-4006
Fax: (916) 323-2263
District Office
1020 N Street, Room 576
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: (916) 651-1529
Fax: (916) 327-8754


California State Senate Majority Caucus (c) 2014 California State Senate