Thursday, June 20, 2013


(Sacramento)  Assembly Majority Leader Toni Atkins today won the coveted samurai sword top honors at the Capitol Rollers sushi making competition at the Circle of Life reception, sponsored by the California Rice Commission.  Atkins’ winning entry was a California Roll.

“This event was great fun and I am looking forward to displaying the samurai sword,” says Atkins.  “Even more important is the spotlight this event puts on California’s rice farmers, who provide an important staple in our diet and whose product is part of virtually every piece of sushi made in the U.S.”

The Circle of Life reception celebrates California rice, which generates $1.8 billion each year for California’s economy and provides habitat for 230 wildlife species.

Atkins’ signature headgear gets her in the right mood
for creating a prize-winning California Roll

Monday, June 17, 2013


Statement of Assembly Majority Leader Toni Atkins on Adoption of State Budget

(Sacramento) The State Legislature today adopted a balanced, on-time state budget for the coming fiscal year.  The Legislature’s budget will next be reviewed by Governor Brown by the June 30th  constitutional deadline for the new fiscal year that begins July 1st.

Following is the statement of Assembly Majority Leader Toni Atkins on today’s action:

Today the California State Legislature adopted a state budget that is balanced, on-time, and fiscally responsible.  This budget is a blueprint for a state government that promotes growth and provides essential services through the prudent and responsible use of taxpayer money.  It reflects our state’s values – continuing a cautious approach to spending and revenue projections as we come out of a serious recession, setting the stage for establishing a rainy day fund, strengthening the middle class, and prioritizing the effective and efficient delivery of state government services to businesses and individuals.

Elements of next year’s budget that will be of particular interest to my constituents include:

Fiscal caution: The budget is balanced, with a reserve of $1.1 billion.  It is based upon a conservative estimate of state revenues rather than more optimistic projections that some have urged.  The budget pays down $5.2 billion in budget debt and also budget anticipates the placement on the 2014 ballot of a proposal to establish a Rainy Day Fund to protect against future economic downturns.

Education funding: In a reversal of the financial pressure experienced by schools for the past several years, this year every school district will receive a funding increase.  School districts with high concentrations of  English learners and poor families will receive additional funds.  Student costs at community colleges and the state’s universities will also be stabilized through increased budget allocations.

Middle Class Scholarships:
  Implementation of this program will begin next year.  When fully in place, students whose families earn under $100,000 will be eligible for scholarships to cover 40% of fees at the California State University and University of California.

Veterans Services: The budget provides $3 million for state staff to assist the federal government in processing disability claims for California veterans and $3 million for County Veteran Service Officers to outreach to veterans regarding services.

Improved Programs for Families Striving for the Middle Class:  In addition to strengthening our educational system and improving access for all students, the budget adopted by the legislature increases funding for child care to assist parents in returning to work and for the CalWORKS Child Poverty Adjustment. Other modifications to the CalWORKS program stabilize families and support employment.

The budget also re-establishes a modified Medi-Cal Adult Dental program, a benefit that was completely eliminated through drastic budget cuts during the recession.  Medi-Cal will also be slightly expanded to provide access to healthcare for the working poor.
Delivering Effective, Efficient Services for Californians:
The budget follows through on the Assembly’s action this Spring to permanently cut the length of time for the Secretary of State to process business filings from over 60 days to no more than 5 days.  In addition, $4 million is allocated for Local Coastal Plans to be updated for streamlining and improving coastal zone changes in accordance with the Coastal Act.

San Diego Items:

Preserving Historic San Diego Old Town Site: I was successful in securing the transfer of the abandoned CalTrans headquarters near Old Town to the state park system in order to keep the site in public hands and preserve the archaeological treasures buried beneath the building.

Protecting Scripps Pier: $5 million was included in the state budget to replace the aging 50-year old Nimitz Marine Facility (MarFac) pier maintained by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego. The pier is home base for more than 90 Scripps research vessels studying climate change and the ocean environment.

Meals for Seniors: Due to federal sequestration, senior nutrition programs such as those provided by San Diego Senior Community Services face a $10 million statewide loss.  Under this budget, the state will backfill some of this loss by providing $1 million for  “meals on wheels” type programs and $1.7 million for group senior meals.

Court Funding:  Court funding was seriously impacted during the recession, with the effect of limiting access to our state system of justice. The legislature added $63M to Governor’s proposal for a modest restoration of funds. San Diego courts will receive enough additional funding to avoid employee furloughs that were imminent. Funding for the new San Diego courthouse remains in next year’s budget.

Additional information about the budget adopted today by the legislature is available at


Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, made the following statement following passage of the 2013-14 fiscal year budget for the State of California:

“Today, the California Legislature approved the state budget for the coming fiscal . After years of difficult cuts, this year’s budget is on-time, fiscally sound and restores funding for the programs that matter to San Diego County’s families.

“My colleagues and I advocated for this year’s budget to expand educational opportunities for our children and young adults, to reduce unemployment and rebuild the Middle Class by creating more jobs in the private sector, and to strengthen the state’s safety net for health and human services.

“Here are some of the highlights that I am most proud to have supported in this year’s state budget:

  • Restores funding for public K-12 education for all schools in the state but also improves funding for School Districts like ours in the South Bay and Mid-City that serve low-income and English-learning students.
  • Maintains funding for Regional Occupation Programs and Adult Education that are vital to training our future workforce.
  • Increases funding for early care and preschool programs.
  • Expands Medi-Cal to provide wider access to healthcare for the working poor as well as basic dental care for adults.
  • Increases the incentives used to put residents back to work through welfare-to-work programs.
  • Cuts the processing time for business filings at the Secretary of State from over two months to a maximum of 5 days.
  • Allows local governments to more easily invest in critical infrastructure projects that can improve the quality of life in our neighborhoods and grow our economy.
  • Provides $1 million over the next three years to maintain the Goat Canyon sediment basins in Border Field State Park to prevent debris and other pollution from flowing into the Tijuana Estuary.
  • Funds the California Veterans Service Officer programs to improve timely access to federal benefits for local military vets.
“This budget represents a step forward in improving  our schools, higher education and state services so that they are befitting of our Golden State.”

To learn more about the 2013-14 state budget process, visit:

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez represents California’s 80th Assembly District, located in southern San Diego County and including the cities of San Diego, Chula Vista and National City.