Thursday, January 23, 2014
STATEMENT OF ASSEMBLY MAJORITY LEADER TONI ATKINS ON GOVERNOR BROWN’S STATE OF THE STATE ADDRESS
(Sacramento) The Governor has laid out a forward looking but strategic vision for our state’s future. Achieving our state’s comeback, as the Governor calls it, is due to disciplined work by the Governor and the Legislature as well as the support of the voters of California for the temporary taxes enacted through proposition 30. Our hard work and faith in the future has paid off.
Democrats in the Assembly agree that our state is on the rebound, but that it is also important for us to be cautious and conservative as we look at how best to use state resources now that the crisis caused by the great recession is behind us. The most important principles we should apply as we go forward are maintaining stability and investing in opportunity.
I am particularly pleased to see that Governor Brown has embraced the idea of putting the creation of a rainy day fund before the voters this November. We must not operate the state based upon a boom and bust mentality. The rainy day fund will insulate our state from the ups and downs of the economic cycle so that we can maintain a steady level of funding for programs, providing predictability and reliability for businesses and individuals, but also preventing over-spending in the good years by requiring that money be put into our savings account.
Another area of agreement is that we should make paying off the debt that we racked up during the great recession a priority. Number one on that list, as the Governor has suggested, should be restoring funds to our public schools that were deferred during the economic downturn. These deferrals represented cuts to the operating budgets of schools that had a direct impact on students in the classroom.
I also agree that investing in education is the best use of our resources because the payback comes in terms of prosperity and quality of life for every Californian. Additional funding for K-12 and public colleges and universities and a new formula to ensure extra resources for school districts with the highest number of struggling students will help ensure that each student has access to a high quality, affordable education to prepare them to be adults and workers in a global marketplace.
Water has been a scarce resource that California has struggled with since before we were a state. Even in good years, we have to balance the needs of agriculture, residents, and natural areas and wildlife. In a drought year such as the one we are currently experiencing, we all must cooperate and sacrifice to ensure that basic needs are met. I am committed to working with my colleagues in the Legislature to develop new approaches to water that ensures an adequate supply, even after we get past this year’s drought.
Our water shortage due to a lack of rain is just one of the many important reasons we must continue to seriously address the impact of climate change. Air quality, sea level rise, threats to the cleanliness of our water, wildfires, and a host of other threats to our way of life are also a result of climate change. I will be working with my legislative colleagues to continue California’s leadership on climate change.
Today, the Governor urged us to build for the future, not steal from it. I look forward to working with him and my colleagues in the Legislature to produce another on-time balanced state budget and to adopt legislative proposals that make that goal a reality.