Vidak's News & Views: March 2016

Friday, March 4, 2016

Howdy Friends —

Funding for Developmental Services

There’s great news for the developmentally disabled community; after years of being held hostage in budget negotiations, the Legislature finally approved funding for the Department of Developmental Services for at least one year.

It’s been heartbreaking to see vital services and programs cut that help the developmentally disabled, so I am grateful to be able to support this increased funding. I was disappointed, though, that my request to amend the measure to guarantee funding beyond just this year was not considered.

The Legislature also passed a new healthcare tax hike, which I couldn’t support because; 1) with billion-dollar budget surpluses, I didn’t think it was necessary, and 2) I’m concerned the tax hike will likely get passed onto families and small businesses already struggling to pay their healthcare insurance bills.

To read the Op-Ed on why I didn’t vote for the healthcare tax hike, click here.

Opposing Health Care Tax Hike​

The Legislature also passed a new healthcare tax hike, which I didn't support.  The state doesn't have an income problem, it has a spending priority problem.  To read more about why I didn't vote for to raise taxes, click here.

Career Expo Video Highlights

Thanks again to all the employers and job seekers that participated in the 2016 Central Valley Career and Resource Expo at the Tachi Palace Bingo Hall in Lemoore. I hope you enjoy this two-minute video.

Please click the picture below to watch.

Senator Andy Vidak - Career and Resource Expo (video)

High-Speed Blindside

On February 8, KGET TV’s Jim Scott interviewed me for “Kern County In Depth” on the odds of the High-Speed Rail Authority building a heavy maintenance facility in Bakersfield. I said the odds were against it ever happening – the Authority was just dangling a carrot to get support in Kern County, like it’s done in many other Valley communities.

On February 19, the Authority announced it was going to build the first phase of track north to San Jose, instead of south from Madera to Burbank, blindsiding the City of Bakersfield. Following the abrupt route change, the Bakersfield Californian wrote, “Now it’s really a train to nowhere.”

No surprise here. The system design is fatally flawed, the alleged private funding is non-existent, the waste and cost escalations are rampant. The proposed route changes more often than the seasons. Hopefully the next governor will see this project for the albatross it is and join the rest of us in running the High-Speed Rail Authority out of town on a rail.

To read the Californian’s editorial, click here. To watch “Kern County In Depth,” click here.

Pray for Rain. Stop the Train.

Sincerely,
Senator Andy Vidak's signature
Andy

FREE Hanford Small Business Seminar and Resource Expo

Strategies for Success in Today’s Economy

Hanford AuditoriumTeam Vidak has joined California State Board of Equalization (BOE) Vice Chair George Runner, Assemblyman Rudy Salas, the City of Hanford, the Hanford Chamber of Commerce and the Tulare Kings Hispanic Chamber of Commerce to bring the Small Business Seminar and Resource Expo to Hanford.

“This seminar is designed to give small businesses the resources to help succeed, prosper and grow jobs in Hanford and our Central Valley,” said Andy.

WHEN

Wednesday, April 20, 2016
9:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
(check-in begins at 8:30 a.m.)

WHERE

City of Hanford Civic Auditorium
400 North Douty Street
Hanford, CA 93230
FREE PARKING

Invited to present:

  • Board of Equalization
  • Employment Development Department
  • Internal Revenue Service
  • Franchise Tax Board
  • U.S. Small Business Administration
  • Fresno State Small Business Development Center

Topics for starting or growing a business:

  • Basic Sales and Use Tax
  • Employee or Independent Contractor?
  • Better Business through Better Records
  • Forms of Ownership
  • Loan Program and Services
  • Social Media Marketing

Please register online for this BOE-sponsored event at www.boe.ca.gov/seminars or by calling the BOE at 1-888-847-9652.

“If you own a small business (or want to start one) in the Valley, we hope you can attend,” said Andy.

Andy Introduces Legislation to Reimburse Counties for Special Elections

Andy has introduced legislation—Senate Bill 967—that would require the state to reimburse counties for the cost of holding special elections to fill the vacancy of a member of the state Legislature or Congress.

“When state and federal politicians leave office early, county taxpayers shouldn’t get stuck with the bill,” said Andy. “Unexpected special election costs cut into vital local services, like police, fire, health and education.”

Under current law, counties must bear the cost of special elections. As a result, affected counties must allocate funds away from essential services to pay for the election.

According to the California Secretary of State, in the last 20-plus years, there have been over 120 special primary and general elections to fill vacant seats in the Assembly, Senate and Congress in California.

A special election to be held next month to fill the Assembly seat, which Henry Perea vacated, will cost Fresno County more than $500,000. Special Elections for the past six years have cost Los Angeles County more than $20 million.

While all counties are negatively affected, smaller counties are hurt the most. With their smaller tax base, many small counties must divert a greater share of their funds towards a special election from their already strained budgets.

Governor Holds Transportation Projects Hostage to Force Tax Hike Vote

Andy sent the following letter to the California Transportation Commission (CTC) to address his concerns that the governor is holding transportation projects hostage to try and force a vote to support gas and car tax hikes:

February 8, 2016

To the Honorable Members of the California Transportation Commission:

Thank you for your letter of last week titled “State Transportation Funding Crisis Continues to Worsen.”

It is good to know exactly which potential road projects in my district the Governor’s administration is holding hostage to try to force my vote for tax hikes.

My request of you would be to please provide me with a list of projects and programs throughout the state that will still go forward without tax hikes. My constituents and the taxpayers of California would like to know your priorities.

Your endorsement of the Governor’s plan—SB1x by Senator Beall and AB 1591 by Assemblyman Frazier—is nice to know, but the fact that you don’t even mention the over $1 billion the Governor is proposing to spend this year on his pet “High Speed Rail” project is astounding.

If the Governor truly wants to reach consensus and compromise on transportation funding, he would offer up his legacy train for sacrifice. Almost every Republican legislator and many, many Democrat legislators would be on-board with this approach.

To read the letter from Andy, click here. To read the letter Andy received from the CTC, click here.

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Team Vidak Out & About

Click on the photos below to read more.

Parlier’s The Cat House on the Kings

Team Vidak at The Cat House on the Kings, Feline Rescue

Lemoore’s Family Dental Care Breaks Ground

Lemoore's Family Dental Care Breaks Ground

Superior Court of Kings County Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony

Superior Court of Kings County Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

California Youth Connection – Fresno Chapter

California Youth Connection (CYC) - Fresno Chapter

AIMS Center for Math and Science Grand Opening in Fresno

AIMS Center for Math and Science's grand opening in Fresno

Tulare’s World Ag Expo 2016

Tulare's 2016 World Ag Expo

Lemoore Chamber of Commerce

Lemoore Chamber of Commerce

Univision Helps Valley Students Apply for College Funds

Univision helps students apply for college

Kings Canyon Unified School District

Kings Canyon Unified School District

Kern & Kings County Veterans Services

Kern and Kings County Veteran Services

Andy Earns Perfect Score from Small Businesses

Andy has earned a perfect score for his support of small businesses from the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB)/California.

“Senator Vidak’s 100 percent NFIB rating is a testament to his commitment to defending small businesses every day in the Legislature,” said NFIB/CA State Executive Director Tom Scott. “As a small business owner, Senator Vidak knows best how excessive burdens from Sacramento affect job creators in California, and we thank him for his pro-small business record in the Senate.”

The NFIB/California Voting Record is developed by selecting key bills that have been voted on by the Legislature based on NFIB member policy priorities, and on which every member of the Legislature had an opportunity to cast a vote. The votes on those bills are then recorded and a percentage is determined for each member of the Assembly and Senate.

“Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and the largest creator of jobs,” said Andy. “It’s imperative that those of us serving in the Legislature help create an environment in California where small businesses can thrive and grow.”

A copy of the NFIB/California Voting Record with Andy’s votes can be viewed by clicking here.

New Tax Credit Helps Working Families

Earned Income Tax Credit - It's your money, get it!Andy is excited that California now offers an Earned Income Tax Credit (Cal EITC) modeled after legislation he introduced Senate Bill 152. Refunds will be given to qualifying workers when they file their 2015 tax returns. “This means more money in the pockets of hardworking families,” said Andy. If you qualify for the Cal EITC and owe taxes, the amount of taxes you owe will be reduced, and you may receive a tax refund. If you do not owe taxes and you qualify for the Cal EITC, you will receive a tax refund.

You qualify for the Cal EITC if:

  • You, your spouse, and any qualifying children each have a Social Security number issued by the Social Security Administration that is valid for employment, AND
  • You lived in California for more than half the tax year, AND
  • Your investment income does not exceed $3,400 for the entire tax year, AND
  • You do not file your taxes as “Married/Registered Domestic Partners filing separately,” AND
  • Your combined adjusted gross income and earned income are no more than:
    • $6,580 if there are no qualifying children.
    • $9,880 if there is one qualifying child.
    • $13,870 if there are two or more qualifying children.

Eligible sources of earned income include:

  • Wages for which you receive a W-2.
  • Salaries and tips.
  • Other employee compensation subject to California withholding, such as commissions.

For the Cal EITC, earned income does not include income from self-employment.

To get the Cal EITC, you must file a California income tax return and complete an FTB 3514, Earned Income Tax Credit form. For help completing the form and other free tax assistance, visit a local Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) location.

At VITA locations, taxpayers receive help preparing their tax forms from trained community volunteers. They can help you determine if you qualify for the Cal EITC and many other tax credits, deductions, and benefits.

The VITA program offers free tax help to people who generally make $54,000 or less, persons with disabilities and limited English speaking taxpayers who need assistance in preparing their own tax returns. IRS-certified volunteers provide free basic income tax return preparation with electronic filing to qualified individuals.

Go online at Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) location or CalEITC4Me.org to find help.

You can also see how much you may qualify for at these links 2015 Earned Income Tax Credit Table or CalEITC4Me online calculator.

Highlights of Andy’s March Calendar


 

3/4
3/4
3/7
3/8
3/8
3/9
3/10
3/14
3/16
3/16
3/17
3/25
3/28
3/29
3/31

Note:

Tour of Rio Bravo Biomass Plant – Fresno
Fresno County Farm Bureau Coffee Talk – Selma
Senate Floor Session – State Capitol
Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water Oversight Hearing – State Capitol
State of the Judiciary Address – State Capitol
Senate Committee on Education – State Capitol
Senate Floor Session – State Capitol
Senate Floor Session – State Capitol
Senate Committee on Education – State Capitol
California Ag Day – State Capitol
Senate Floor Session – State Capitol
Fresno Chamber of Commerce Eggs & Issues Breakfast – Fresno
Senate Floor Session – State Capitol
Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water Hearing – State Capitol
Senate Floor Session – State Capitol

The Legislature’s Spring Recess begins upon adjournment of Floor Session on March 17.
The Legislature reconvenes from Spring Recess on March 28.