2015-2016 State Budget
Although I didn’t agree with everything in the budget, overall, it prioritizes education, saves for a rainy day and helps reduce the state’s debt. I voted for the budget bills that support the needs of the Valley and against the bills that don’t.
There’s a lot that’s good for the Valley, including an earned income tax credit for the working poor, $45 million for local law enforcement statewide, with $5 million set aside for the police departments of Corcoran, Avenal and Lemoore.
Additionally, there’s $5 million for folks in East Porterville (due to loss of wells) and $18 million for the Porterville Development Center.
During the budget debate, I offered an amendment to one of the budget trailer bills, Assembly Bill 117, which streamlines the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), making it faster and easier for billionaire NBA owners to build a new sports arena in San Francisco and well-connected developers to build homes in Hollywood.
The amendment would have simply allowed the same CEQA streamlining benefits to be used to build vitally-needed water storage facilities that are necessary to provide clean water to disadvantaged communities and to keep farmworkers working instead of fallowing fields.
Another budget trailer bill I opposed, Senate Bill 88, will violate private water rights and force the consolidation of local water agencies. This bill is masquerading as a solution to the problems of East Porterville and communities like it. In reality, it will do very little to help these residents.
If you have any questions about the budget, please feel free to contact my Capitol office at (916) 651-4014.
As always, it is an honor and privilege to serve you.
To watch video of Andy’s Senate Floor Speeches during the budget debate, click on the photos below:
Andy fights for water storage.
Andy fights to protect private water rights.
Photo: Andy chats with folks attending the Community Coffee in Reedley.
Photo: Reedley Police Chief Joe Garza gave a public safety update to the more than 100 people that attended the Community Coffee.
“Big thanks to all the folks that came to the Legislative Community Coffee in Reedley in June. I really enjoyed sharing coffee and conversation with so many concerned and engaged citizens,” said Andy. “Special thanks to Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims and Reedley Police Chief Joe Garza for co-hosting the community event and providing a public safety update, and to Palm Village Retirement Community for providing such a great place for people to gather.”
Article by Victor Davis Hanson
The air in the San Joaquin Valley this late-June is, of course, hot and dry, but also dustier and more full of particulates than usual. This year a strange flu reached epidemic proportions. I say strange, because after the initial viral symptoms subsided, one’s cough still lingered for weeks and even months. Antibiotics did not seem to faze it. Allergy clinics were full. Almost every valley resident notices that when orchards and vineyards are less watered, when row cropland lies fallow, when lawns die and blow away, when highway landscaping dries up, nature takes over and the air becomes even filthier. Green elites lecture that agriculture is unnatural, without any idea why pre-civilized, pre-irrigated, and “natural” California was an empty place, whose dry, hazy climate and dusty winds made life almost impossible. The state is running on empty.
Domestic and agricultural wells are going dry all over Central California, especially in the corridors south of Fresno to the Grapevine, along the Sierra Nevada foothills, and out west of the 99 Freeway—anywhere there is not a deep aquifer. I have never seen anything quite like this water madness in 60 years, as families scrimp and borrow to drill, or simply move to town to take advantage of municipal wells. I have developed a habit as I drive to work to Stanford of counting the abandoned homes I see west of Highway 41 (sort of like counting those who sit in Wal-Mart not to shop, but to enjoy the air conditioning they cannot afford). The number increases each week. Retired couples—or families in general—apparently do not have tens of thousands of dollars to drill a deeper well, especially given the uncertainty of how fast the dropping water table will soon make their investment superfluous. Without water, there is nothing.
Some dry farmland is turning into vacant parcels. Many rural homes must have potable water trucked in. Hispanics who recently immigrated to California and bought or rented older homes with shallow wells in these areas of the valley countryside have no money to drill deeper $30,000 domestic wells. Nor do many poor whites, who often live in isolated communities in the foothills. Who has the capital to gamble on finding scarce water in dicey granite seams? There is no water in the reservoirs left to recharge the water table or to fill canals that can be tapped for domestic use.
Along the vast West Side of the Central Valley thousands of acres lie fallow—a euphemism that does not reflect the dust that arises from neglected fields. Thousands of acres of West Side nut orchards seem like they are beginning to wither, as insufficient and brackish water from 1,000-foot wells after four years has fatally taxed the trees. The idea that in such crisis times of the last four years anyone would have released millions of acre-feet of precious stored fresh water to the ocean is profoundly immoral. The thought that anyone would oppose the creation of more reservoirs to accommodate a thirsty state population of 40 million is morally bankrupt.
We suffer in California from a particular form of progressive immorality predicated on insular selfishness. The water supplies of Los Angeles and the Bay Area are still for a year longer in good shape, despite the four-year drought. Neither area is self-sufficient in water; their aquifers are marginal and only supply a fraction of their daily needs. Instead these megalopolises depend on intricate and expensive water transfer systems—from Northern California, from the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and from the Colorado River—that bring water and life to quite unnatural habitats and thereby allow a MGM or Facebook to thrive in an arid landscape that otherwise would not support such commerce and population.
Victor Davis Hanson is the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow in Residence in Classics and Military History at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, a professor of Classics Emeritus at California State University, Fresno, and a nationally syndicated columnist for Tribune Media Services. He is also the Wayne & Marcia Buske Distinguished Fellow in History, Hillsdale College, where he teaches each fall semester courses in military history and classical culture.
Andy’s district representatives will be offering Mobile District Office hours in the following communities in the month of July:
Andy has district offices in Fresno, Hanford and Bakersfield. Mobile District Office hours are an opportunity for Senate District 14 residents to meet locally with a Team Vidak representative to hear more about Andy’s work in Sacramento and the Central Valley, have their questions answered or get help with specific state-related issues, including: unemployment benefits; issues with state agencies, such as the DMV and Franchise Tax Board; licensing; Medi-Cal; small business assistance; worker’s compensation; state legislation; and other state-related matters.
For more information, contact Jann Taber in Vidak’s Capitol office at 916-651-4014 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chef Paul Pearson and his wife, Rose, were recently honored as Senate District 14’s “2015 Small Business of Year” at the California Small Business Association’s annual awards ceremony in Sacramento.
Chef Paul and the Pearson family have been wowing folks in Fresno with amazing food at Chef Paul’s Café and with his catering services for decades.
“Chef Paul is such a master, that he’s served four U.S. presidents and numerous celebrities. Above and beyond that, he generously gives back with his time, talent and treasure to help the Fresno community,” said Andy.
Click on the photos to read more about what Team Vidak is doing in our communities and at the Capitol.
Andy was proud to recognize several Senate District 14 High School students who earned the Comcast Leader and Achiever Award for their commitment to community service, academic achievements and demonstrated leadership.
Pictured with Andy from left to right are: Christian Garcia (Reedley High School); Megan Wells (Selma High School); Eileen Eduardo (Sanger High School); and Michael Mayfield (Hanford High School). Not pictured award recipients from Senate District 14 are Wesley Bucher (Immanuel Schools in Reedley), Yadira Flores (Hanford West High School) and Samantha Jones (San Joaquin Memorial High).
“These amazing young leaders have a very bright future,” said Andy.
Recent changes to the Cal Grant C program make it easier for students pursuing technical or vocational training to get financial aid for training, education and certification for occupations in high demand with employers.
It’s also easier now for those living in disadvantaged communities and/or who have been unemployed for months or years to get grants. Students of any age can apply, giving folks the ability to change their occupation in pursuit of a better paying job.
Cal Grant C awards are worth up to $2,462 for tuition and fees, with another $547 for books and supplies, and may provide support for up to two years. The grants can be used at California Community Colleges (CCC), private colleges or career technical schools. These awards do not have to be paid back. The following chart shows occupations that are given grant priority and the median income (wage) for that occupation:
For more information on eligibility and how to applying for a Cal Grant C award, visit calgrants.org.
According to the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), summer heat waves can be dangerous. Those at greatest risk of heat-related illness include:
infants and children up to four years of age;
people who overexert during work or exercise;
people 65 years of age or older; and
people who are ill or on certain medications.
To protect your health when temperatures are extremely high, CDPH recommends the following:
Drink Plenty of Fluid – Increase your fluid intake regardless of your activity level.
Replace Salt and Minerals – The best way to replace salt and minerals is to drink fruit juice or a sports beverage during exercise or any work in the heat.
Wear Appropriate Clothing and Sunscreen – Wear as little clothing as possible when at home. Choose lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing. In the hot sun, a wide-brimmed hat will keep the head cool.
Pace Yourself – If you are unaccustomed to working or exercising in hot weather, start out slowly and pick up the pace gradually.
Schedule Outdoor Activities Carefully – If you must be out in the heat, plan your activities so that you are outdoors either before noon or in the evening. While outdoors, rest frequently in a shady area.
Use a Buddy System – When working in the heat, monitor the condition of your coworkers and have someone do the same for you.
Stay Cool Indoors – The most efficient way to beat the heat is to stay in an air-conditioned area. If you do not have an air conditioner or evaporative cooling unit, consider a visit to a shopping mall, public swimming pool, cooling center or public library for a few hours.
For more information on how to prevent heat-related illnesses, visit the CDPH website here.
To find a cooling center near year, contact your local city or county government office, or you can visit PG&E’s online cooling center locator here, or call PG&E’s toll-free number at 1-877-474-3266.
Several measures that Andy authored are working their way through the Assembly:
Senate Bill 244 – Mobile Home Safe Communities
Mobile home residents are entitled to quiet enjoyment of their property and common areas, while park owners are obligated to preserve that quiet enjoyment. This measure would allow mobile home park owners to continue using an injunction order to enforce the rules of a mobile home park.
Senate Bill 497 – Pupil Transportation Data
This measure would require the California Department of Education (CDE) to collect and post online pupil transportation data to help the state and policy makers understand how it is severely underfunding school bus transportation in rural communities. State underfunding of school transportation takes money out of the classroom.
Senate Bill 736 – Escrow Protection Act
In the past, there have been cases of fraud which have resulted in the failure of escrow companies, putting the assets of individuals who had money in these escrow companies at risk. This measure would protect an individual’s assets held in escrow accounts if an escrow company goes out of business.
Following are upcoming legislative deadlines in the month of July:
July 3 Independence Day observed. State offices are closed.
July 17 Last day for policy committees to meet and report bills. Summer Recess begins at the end of this day’s session. The Legislature reconvenes from Summer Recess on August 17.