Welcome to my latest newsletter where I am pleased to share some highlights of the recently-enacted state budget, the legislature's response to the drought, my own efforts to transform the way elections are conducted, and more.Problems viewing this E-mail? Please click here.
Senator Ben Allen


 


Dear Friends,

Welcome to my latest newsletter where I am pleased to share some highlights of the recently-enacted state budget, the legislature's response to the drought, my own efforts to transform the way elections are conducted, and more.

As always, I invite you to let me know your views about issues affecting our state and our community. The best way to contact me is through my website, www.senate.ca.gov/allen, or call my office at (310) 318-6994.

Best,
Senator Ben Allen
BEN ALLEN
Senator, 26th District
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IN THIS ISSUE

Drought Response

State Budget Enacted

Small Business Honoree

Daily Breeze Pulitzer

Refugio Oil Spill Reaches South Bay Beaches

Santa Monica College

Supporting the Arts

LA Air Force Base

Voting Modernization

Vaccine Legislation Signed into Law

Photo Album


Legislature Responds to Drought Crisis

Dried out land

The signs of the drought are everywhere, as formerly lush green lawns are now brown, and rivers and lakes are at levels far below anything in recent memory. California is in its fourth year of severe drought, and this year, we experienced the lowest snowpack and the driest January in recorded history. The dramatic water shortage poses a real threat to our economy and our way of life.

Recently the legislature and the governor responded to the water crisis with $1 billion in emergency funding to reduce the impact of the drought. The funding will support key investments in water conservation, recycled water, and stormwater capture. We also cut red tape and sped up approval of drought relief projects, consolidated local water agencies to achieve cheaper and more efficient water use, and increased water monitoring so that the state can more accurately assess how much water is being used on farms and in urban areas. The funds also will support a variety of relief activities that will expedite water supply and flood control improvements, expand access to emergency drinking water in communities experiencing the worst shortfalls, and provide financial assistance to those whose jobs and livelihood are affected by the drought.

We all need to do our part to conserve during this crisis. The residents of Hermosa Beach are setting an excellent example of what a community can do to save water. City residents recently pledged to save 17 million gallons of water in one month - an amount equal to 26 Olympic-sized swimming pools. For its efforts, Hermosa Beach won the Wyland Foundation Mayor's Challenge for Water Conservation award. Read more about it here. The City of Torrance also ranked as one of the top 10 cities in the challenge. Congratulations to both communities for stepping up to do their part!

To learn more about how you can save water at home and at work, please click here.


State Budget Enacted - On Time and Balanced

I am very pleased to report that for the fifth consecutive year, the legislature passed and the governor signed an on-time, balanced budget. It is a responsible financial plan that increases the state's rainy day fund and reserve, and dedicates more than $1.9 billion to paying off debt. I am happy to share just a few of the highlights of the $115 billion budget here:

Education

As a member of the Budget Subcommittee on Education, I am gratified by the robust education spending in this budget. There is no wiser use for our funds than investing in public education, and this budget makes the largest such investment in history with more than $68 billion going to K-14 schools and programs. That amount exceeds $10,000 per pupil - an increase of 15 percent from two years ago. We are also making significant investments in career technical education, adult education, public libraries, and early childhood education. This budget creates more than 13,000 new slots for early care and learning that will help more children enter kindergarten ready to learn.


Students from Temple Israel Hollywood visited the floor of
the Senate.

UC and CSU

The budget opens up more spots for Californians at the University of California and the California State University System, with funding to allow 15,000 additional students to attend and graduate on time. We funded an additional 3,000 competitive Cal-Grant awards to help students afford the high cost of a college education.

Veterans and senior citizens


Senator Ben Allen met with the Veterans of Foreign Wars to listen
to issues of concern to veterans.

We have provided an additional $3 million for County Veteran Service Officers who help connect veterans with services and benefits they need, and we have increased staffing to address the continuing federal claims backlog. The budget also restores cuts in the In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) program that helps many seniors to remain in their own homes.

Assistance for families living in poverty

Although our economy is rebounding, not everyone is sharing in the prosperity. This budget offers help to the 2 million low-income Californians living in poverty and struggling to make ends meet. We have created new state Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), which will grant $380 million in tax relief to these families.

To learn more about the recently-enacted state budget, click here.


Small Business Honoree

Daily Breeze Pulitzer


Senator Ben Allen with Matt Watson, Beach City Baseball Academy's director of operations.

El Segundo's Beach City Baseball Academy recently received the 26th Senate District's Small Business of the Year award. The Academy teaches students how to excel at our national pastime, and emphasizes important life skills like friendship, teamwork, and good sportsmanship. They also generously give back to the community, through scholarships, sponsorships, donations, an international exchange program, and a renowned clinic for special needs kids.

Matt Watson, the Academy's director of operations, accepted the award on behalf of owner Richard Murad at a June ceremony in Sacramento. Thank you Beach City Baseball Academy for all the good things you do for our local young people!


Senator Ben Allen with executives from the Daily Breeze's parent company, the Los Angeles News Group. From right: Senator Allen; Ron Hasse, President and Publisher; Michael Anastasi, Vice President and Executive Editor; Toni Sciacqua, Managing Editor, Digital Operations; and Senator Isadore Hall.

Congratulations to the Torrance-based Daily Breeze newspaper for winning a Pulitzer Prize for local reporting. This is a huge honor for the paper, the first ever Pulitzer in its more than 100 year history. It is especially impressive for a paper of this size to receive such an honor, considering winners in other Pulitzer categories were some of the nation's largest daily papers, including the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal and the LA Times.

The Pulitzer was awarded for the Daily Breeze's 2014 series of more than 50 articles which exposed a local school district's questionable management and financial decisions.


Refugio Oil Spill Reaches South Bay Beaches


Redondo Beach.

We now have confirmation that the tar balls that washed up on our South Bay beaches came from the Refugio oil spill in Santa Barbara County. As a member of the newly created Senate Select Committee on the Refugio Oil Spill, I will be working with my colleagues in the days and weeks ahead to thoroughly investigate why this tragic environmental disaster happened, how we can prevent other devastating spills in the future, and what can be done to hold the responsible parties accountable. Our extraordinary coastline is far too vital ever to be subjected to this kind of risk.


Santa Monica College to Offer Bachelor's Degree Program

Supporting the Arts

Santa Monica College (SMC) recently received the good news that it has been selected as one of the first community colleges in the state to grant a Bachelor's Degree. The program will be in the exciting field of Interaction Design, an innovative curriculum that trains students for 21st century jobs in the entertainment industry, in Silicon Beach companies, and in any other enterprise where the public accesses information online. I am proud of SMC for once again providing an innovative educational opportunity for students, and contributing to the strength of our regional economy.

As SMC's students, faculty and administrators begin this new endeavor, they bid a fond farewell to Dr. Chui Tsang, who has retired from his post as president of the college. Dr. Tsang served as president of SMC from 2006 through 2015. His steady and visionary leadership steered the college through the worst economic crisis in decades for our community college system. With Dr. Tsang at the helm, SMC managed not only to survive, but to grow and thrive. SMC is the top school in the nation for preparing students to transfer into the University of California system, and it has earned a reputation as one of the most valuable and respected resources in our area. Dr. Tsang will be greatly missed, but I know the entire community joins me in sending him best wishes in his well-deserved retirement.


Dr. Chui Tsang at a "Celebration of Distinction" in honor of his retirement as President of Santa Monica College.

Artist John Van Hamersveld, Hermosa Beach Mayor Nanette Barragan, and Hermosa Beach Surfer's Walk of Fame members at the unveiling of Van Hamersveld's "Hermosa's Great Wave" mural. Photo by Chris Miller.

One of the highlights of the new state budget is a long overdue funding increase for the California Arts Council (CAC), which is the official voice of the arts community in the state. The work of the CAC is vital, and yet it has ranked at or near the bottom in per capita spending compared to other states. In the 2015-16 state budget, the CAC is receiving a permanent increase of $7 million, bringing its total funding to $8.3 million. This is a healthy increase over the $1 million total funding it has received in recent years. For more information about the good work of the CAC, click here.

Nowhere are the arts more important both socially and economically than Southern California. Our region is home to the motion picture industry, has a thriving music and entertainment culture, and boasts countless museums, theatres, and other art venues. As chair of the Joint Committee on the Arts, I am proud to be an advocate for the arts and for arts funding that supports our creative economy in all its forms.


Supporting the LA Air Force Base

Modernizing elections


On a tour of the Los Angeles Air Force Base, Senator Ben Allen (center) met with base officials, and heard about the important work performed at the base.

One of the great, but often unrecognized, economic engines of the South Bay is the Los Angeles Air Force Base (LAAFB). It directly employs 5,879 civilian and military employees and indirectly employs another 11,776 people. The Space and Missile Systems Center at the LAAFB generates $1.7 billion in economic impact to our region. The LAAFB performs all satellite related work for the United States military, such as managing research, development and acquisition of aerospace technology.

I was proud to present Assembly Joint Resolution 11 (AJR 11) on the Senate Floor recently, which highlighted the importance of the LAAFB and California's other 30 bases, and urged our leaders in Washington DC to support these important economic and strategic installations.


Vaccine Legislation
Signed into Law

After conducting dozens of hours of hearings and debates, and hearing testimony from thousands of supporters and opponents, the legislature passed a measure to end California's vaccine exemption loophole. In recent years, the number of unvaccinated children has increased dramatically. We are confronted with the real possibility of potentially fatal diseases returning, despite the popular but incorrect assumption that they have been eradicated for decades.

The bill, SB 277, was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown on June 30. It was backed by a strong coalition of supporters including the American Academy of Pediatrics, California State PTA, California Medical Association, California Immunization Coalition, Health Officers Association of California, Vaccinate California, the Los Angeles Unified School District, and many other cities and school districts across California.

Currently, a parent may choose to opt out of school vaccine requirements. Beginning in 2016, SB 277 will remove that option for students enrolling in kindergarten or 7th grade. Exemptions will only be allowed for medical reasons. SB 277 does not remove a parent's choice to vaccinate his or her child. However, if parents do choose, after careful consideration, not to vaccinate, they will have time to weigh their several options and responsibilities either to home-school their child, or to participate in a multi-family private home-school or to use the public school independent study program.

SB 277 will insure the health of our communities, and enable parents to send their children to school or other public places without fear they may contract a potentially fatal disease.


At a press conference announcing legislation to modernize California elections systems, from left: Assemblymembers Kevin McCarty and Lorena Gonzalez, Senator Ben Allen, Secretary of State Alex Padilla, Assemblymember Sebastian Ridley-Thomas, and Senator Bob Hertzberg.

As chair of the Senate Committee on Elections and Constitutional Amendments, I am actively exploring solutions to California's low voter turnout. I believe one of the reasons for the decline is that counties have been conducting elections in the same way for decades. Bringing our voting methods into the 21st century is long overdue.

I recently visited Denver, Colorado to observe their new election system, one that is helping them to achieve one of the highest voter turnouts in the country. Colorado conducts its elections by all-mail ballot, but it also allows voters to use numerous drop-off locations and innovative voter service polling centers. In lieu of traditional neighborhood polling places, these "vote centers" are set up in convenient locations and are open two weeks prior to each election including weekends. Voters can use any vote center in their home county, and therefore they are not limited to using the one closest to their home.

After seeing the success of the Colorado system, Secretary of State Alex Padilla and I put forward legislation that would replicate aspects of the Colorado system in California. We are convinced it offers the best chance to significantly increase voter participation, and it will save money in the process.

Our legislation, SB 450, will enact an all-mail, vote center system that counties can use instead of our current polling place system. These changes track with what a majority of Californians already do; in the November, 2014 election more than 60 percent of all voters voted by mail.

I am confident that California voters will embrace this new voting model and that with improved turnout we will witness a more engaged, energized electorate.


Photo Album


Senator Ben Allen greets Suzanne Prince and Shawn Landres representing the Jewish Public Affairs Committee of California during JPAC's annual lobbying day in Sacramento.

Rainbow flags flew at the State Capitol in honor of the Supreme Court of the United States decistion to legalize same-sex marriage. Photo credit:  Lorie Shelley.

Senator Allen at Rolling Hills Estates Mayor John Addleman's Annual Mayor's Breakfast Ride.

At the 50th reunion of University "Uni" High School's class of 1965, reunion coordinator Judy Kleinberg and Principal Eric Davidson receive a proclamation in honor of the event from Fernando Morales, Field Representative for Senator Ben Allen. Go Wildcats!

Senator Allen meets with South Bay mayors in the state Capitol.


 


California State Senator Ben Allen - District 26
Website: http://senate.ca.gov/allen
Contact: Senator Ben Allen
Capitol Office
State Capitol, Room 5072
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: (916) 651-4026
Fax: (916) 651-4926
District Office
2512 Artesia Blvd., #320
Redondo Beach, CA 90278-3279
Phone: (310) 318-6994
Fax: (310) 318-6733 


California State Senate Majority Caucus (c) 2017 California State Senate