Please read my May E-Newsletter to learn about what I'm doing on your behalf in the Capitol and at home in the 23rd Senate District..
In this Issue
We Can't Afford an All-cuts Budget
"Education is a debt due from present to future generations."
As a former middle school teacher, I have always believed in the power of education. As the quote above indicates, education is not a gift; but rather a debt we owe to the children of California. But we are in grave danger of defaulting on that debt. If the Legislature and the governor must enact an all cuts budget we are in danger of failing a generation of students.
Governor Brown proposed to fill the state's $25.4 billion dollar budget shortfall through a combination of spending cuts and a temporary extension of existing taxes. Over the past three months Senate Democrats, along with the governor and Assembly Democrats moved at record speed to identify and solve more than half of the budget problem with $14 billion in painful cuts and other solutions.
The next step was to go to the people and let them vote on maintaining existing taxes that are set to expire on July 1, 2011. We have built an unprecedented coalition of leading state and local business groups, employer and employee groups, law enforcement, health care providers, educators, economists, and agriculture leaders across the state. All stood behind the public's right to vote on closing the remainder of the budget deficit. But we needed four Republican votes in order to put the measure on the ballot. Budget negotiations broke down after the governor announced he had failed to obtain any Republican support for his responsible budget plan and as a result, we may be forced to look at an all cuts budget.
My biggest concern is what an all cuts budget will mean to the students of California. We have slashed $18 billion from K-12 education over the past three years. State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson recently said 10 percent of the state's approximately 1,000 school districts are in financial trouble and that cutting another 15 percent from their budgets is “unthinkable”.
Superintendents of K-12 school districts throughout Los Angeles and Ventura counties - who have already fired teachers, slashed programs, increased class sizes, and cut services such as busing - have warned of more over-crowded classrooms; the elimination of sports, music and after school programs; and massive teacher layoffs (More than 20,000 pink slips have gone out to teachers in the state). In the Las Virgenes Unified School District more than 77 teachers have received pink slips. In the Ventura County Unified School District those teachers who will not be laid off are taking 10 furlough days and the school year will be shortened by five days - depriving students of valuable instruction time. The impact of these cuts will hurt our children for years to come.
This year we have already slashed $1.4 billion to our CSU, UC and Community College system. The promise of affordable higher education - something Californians built together and a key economic engine for our great state - is slipping out of reach for too many middle class families.
Gene Block, the Chancellor of UCLA recently wrote an op-ed in the LA Times where he outlined that 10 years ago students paid approximately $3,700 a year to attend UCLA. Next fall it will be $11,600, and that's just for tuition - not books, parking, etc. With an all cuts budget, UC tuition could rise to $25,000. This does not only impact students and their families, but our state's long-term economy.
Block wrote: “California's stunning success in creating an economy based on technological innovation was mainly based on the ready availability of higher education in the half a century following World War II. It is no accident that Silicon Valley and the aerospace industry emerged in California and that the lion's share of new technology companies, from Apple to Google to Twitter, located themselves here.”
But perhaps the most compelling arguments for protecting education from a catastrophic all cuts budget come from the students themselves. Alyssa Leland is a student at CSU Channel Islands. She penned an op-ed for the Ventura County Star (you can read it here) that says we are hindering the future opportunities for her generation. “We are fighting for the right to earn a successful future, one that can make a difference. We are fighting for our future; your future,” Alyssa wrote.
The governor will be releasing his revised budget proposal within the next week or two. The Democrats' primary objective remains a budget that solves the deficit through a balanced approach; protects vital services such as education and public safety; continues to support job creation; and makes government more accountable and efficient by moving it closer to the people. But without any Republican support for allowing voters to weigh in, we have no choice but to begin seriously evaluating the impacts of an all cuts budget.
We owe it to all of the Alyssas out there to invest in education; to invest in our future. We can't afford an all cuts budget.
Students at Pierce Sound Off on the Budget
Sen. Pavley speaking at Pierce College
As I have mentioned, our college and university students are compelling examples of the critical juncture California is facing. Assemblywoman Julia Brownley and I were recently invited to Pierce College in Woodland Hills to answer questions about the current budget crisis. "They're leaders in terms of advocating for us," Joy McCaslin, president of Pierce College told the students.
California Community Colleges Chancellor Jack Scott recently predicted that if the state enacts an all cuts budget approximately 400,000 students will be turned away from community colleges next fall and campuses will be forced to slash thousands of classes. Students at Pierce told us they were already struggling to pay for, and find room in classes. They said the thought of it getting even more expensive and difficult to attend college is frightening and frustrating.
Assemblywoman Brownley and I encouraged the students to remain committed to their education and to get active in a movement to protect education funding in California. These students have already held protests and rallies on campus and are working to register their fellow students to vote. Daniel Axelrod, the president of the Pierce College Associated Students Organization said he is trying to organize a large rally involving multiple schools in the district.
Clean Cars Law Victory
President Obama thanks Sen. Pavley for her work on Clean Car legislation during 2009 White House Rose Garden Ceremony
California scored a major clean air victory this past week when a U.S. Court of Appeals upheld our state's right to exceed federal auto emissions standards. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the national Automobile Dealers Association challenged California's auto emissions standards, but the court found the plaintiffs did not have standing in the case.
The Environmental Protection Agency under the George W. Bush administration refused to grant California a waiver under the Federal Clean Air Act that would have enacted my 2004 law (AB 1493) to curb greenhouse gas emissions from cars. The Obama administration finally issued the waiver in 2009 and last year made the “Pavley Law” the national standard. These tougher emissions standards, along with an increase of federal miles-per-gallon requirements, will result in fuel efficient cars in all classes of vehicles that reduce dependence on foreign oil, clean up our air, and save us all money at the pump. And with gas costing more than $4 a gallon, that is more important than ever.
211 Ventura County Celebrates Six Years
During these tough economic times I want to remind you of a valuable service; the Ventura County 211 service. Six years ago, Ventura County became the first community in California to have a 211 service, the phone number that provides free, confidential, 24/7 access to information about community services. Local government officials recently got together to celebrate the anniversary of 211 Ventura County. Each year the number of calls to the service continues to grow and in 2010 it helped more than 19,000 Ventura County residents by providing more than 33,000 referrals to community service providers, including about 700 agencies and more than 1,500 programs.
Partnering with First 5 Ventura County and United Way of Ventura County, 211 Ventura County callers with information about services available to them, including: basic needs resources (i.e. food, clothing, and shelter), physical and mental health resources, domestic violence services, substance abuse services, employment support, rent and utility assistance, senior services, services for persons with disabilities, support for children, youth and families, legal assistance and much more. Services are available in English and Spanish through bilingual staff and in 150 additional languages through phone interpretation services.
Woman of the Year
Sen. Pavley with Darlene Lasher
I had a wonderful afternoon recently celebrating Darlene Lasher of Pacific Palisades, my choice for 2011 Woman of the Year for California's 23rd Senate District. Lasher currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Ocean Park Community Center (OPCC) - a position she has held since 1994. She has also served as founder and project director for the OPCC's Daybreak Day Center and Shelter for homeless and mentally ill women. OPCC is the largest and most comprehensive provider of housing and services on the Westside to low-income and homeless youth, adults and families, battered women and their children, and people living with mental illness, particularly homeless mentally ill women. She has dedicated her life to improving the lives of others and I'm proud to honor her as my 2011 Woman of the Year.
"It's wonderful to know that, out in the world, one's work is appreciated,” said Lasher. “But this recognition really applauds the work we do at OPCC to empower people to rebuild their lives by believing in the inherent worth and dignity of each individual. So, I am happy to receive this honor and cherish the fact that Senator Pavley has chosen me as a representative of OPCC."
Consumer Champion Honor
Sen. Pavley and CFC Executive Dir. Richard Holober
I was humbled and honored recently to be awarded the “2011 Senator of the Year” by the Consumer Federation of California. “Senator Pavley has long been a consumer champion,” said Consumer Federation of California (CFC) Executive Director Richard Holober. “She has been willing to go up against powerful forces such as the chemical and pharmaceutical industries, utility companies and big oil in an effort to protect consumers.”
The CFC outlined my work on climate change; efforts to ban toxins such as lead, cadmium and BPA from children's products; and legislation to protect consumers from mortgage fraud and elder abuse as some recent examples of consumer advocacy. “Senator Pavley is a true consumer advocate and we are proud to honor her with the Consumer Federation of California Senator of the Year Award,” said Holober.
I sincerely appreciate this honor and would like to thank CFC for their efforts in supporting legislation and causes that seek to protect California consumers.
Clean Energy Training Opportunity
I want to let you know about a valuable training opportunity. The Santa Monica College Clean Energy Workforce Training Program (CEWTP) provides FREE training through Santa Monica College's Office of Workforce & Economic Development. The objective of this program is to develop a qualified workforce serving the emerging Green economy. Small business and non-profit employees, independent contractors, and sole-proprietors are encouraged to gain the fundamental knowledge base and skill sets required in the Clean Energy market place. For more information about upcoming classes click here.
Ventura County has a seat on Coastal Commission
Governor Brown has appointed Brian Brennan, 59, of Ventura to the California Coastal Commission. Brennan has served as a Ventura City Councilmember since 1997 and also served as mayor from 2003 to 2005. He has been a senior executive aide to Ventura County Supervisor Steve Bennett since 2008. Brennan was the general manager of Chart House Restaurants from 1976 to 1997. He was chair of the Ventura Visitor and Convention Bureau from 1994 to 1997, a member of the Ventura Chamber of Commerce since 1989, and a founding member of the Ventura County chapter of the Surfrider Foundation. Brennan will serve in the south central coast slot on the commission representing the counties of Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo and Ventura. The appointee must be selected from a list of locally elected officials. A Ventura County representative has not served in this slot since 1995.
The California Coastal Commission was established by voter initiative in 1972 (Proposition 20) and later made permanent by the Legislature through adoption of the California Coastal Act of 1976. Their mission is to protect, conserve, restore, and enhance environmental and human-based resources of the California coast and ocean for environmentally sustainable and prudent use by current and future generations.
The Veggie Grill Co-founder Kevin Boylan, General Manager Kelly Green and Pavley staffer Stephanie Molen
Each month I recognize a business, person or organization in my district that is dedicated to preserving our environment by living and working responsibly. This month I'm proud to announce that I presented an Environmental Sustainability Award to the Veggie Grill in West Hollywood. Beyond serving 100% plant based food, the Veggie Grill uses biodegradable plastic bags, limits the use of paper and plastic, uses recycled and/or recyclable materials for all take-out items, uses sustainable materials for counters and floors and attempts to raise awareness of the broad range of sustainable alternatives to common consumables. By building their restaurants with renewable materials and operating the eateries in an environmentally responsible way they are an asset to our community and an inspiration to other businesses.
You're Invited: Bicycle Safety Event
If you're a parent, grandparent or a caregiver to bicycle loving youngsters, I'd like to invite you and the little ones to meet me at an upcoming bicycle safety event. I'm teaming up with Assemblywoman Julia Brownley and Safe Moves, a non-profit organization that is recognized as the leading authority in traffic safety education in the country to put on this event at Will Rogers State Beach in Malibu. This promises to be a fun, informative, and potentially life-saving event that will include a mini city for children to learn safe riding skills and promote the use of helmets. Safe Moves will also sponsor a drawing for a bicycle and a safety helmet. I hope to see you there!
Who: Senator Fran Pavley, Assemblywoman Julia Brownley, and Safe Moves
What: Bicycle Safety Event
When: Saturday May 7, 2011, 11 a.m.-1 p.m.
Where: Will Rogers State Beach Parking Lot #3 (Entrance at PCH and Temescal Canyon- daily parking rates apply) (map)
Info: To RSVP please contact Kara Seward at 310-314-5214, or firstname.lastname@example.org
Santa Monica Sustainable Quality Awards
The Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce, Sustainable Works and the City of Santa Monica held its 16th annual Sustainable Quality Awards (SQA) luncheon last week. The SQA honors organizations and businesses, large and small, private and nonprofit, located in Santa Monica that demonstrate significant achievements in the areas of economic development, social responsibility, and stewardship of the natural environment above and beyond their primary mission.
SQA Grand Prize winners are LAcarGuy, the top hybrid car dealer in the world and PS#1 Elementary School, for incorporating environmental sustainability into its class curriculum, and for its green building features and online carpool map. Excellence in Stewardship of the Environment Award winners are: Gorman and Miller, Lotus East-West Medical Center, Minarc, Schaffer's Genuine Foods.
Four out of the six Sustainable Quality Award Winners participated in the Sustainable Works Business Greening Program, including both Grand Prize Winners. One of the Excellence winners achieved Santa Monica Green Business Certification. The Business Greening Program is a FREE service for businesses located in Santa Monica. For more information visit www.sustainableworks.org. Congratulations to all of the winners!
Connecting with Constituents
Senator Pavley touring Jewish Family Services Freda Mohr Multipurpose Senior Center
Senator Pavley meeting with Rabbi Denise Edgar and Rabbi Mark Diamond in West Hollywood