Below is a summary of some subcommittee activity from the past week:
Subcommittee #1 (Education)
Portantino (D-Los Angeles) Chair, Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa), Jackson (D-Santa Barbara)
Better Stewardship Needed at State Universities: The University of California (UC) and the California State University (CSU) are seeking hundreds of millions of dollars beyond the amounts generated by pending tuition hikes and the governor’s proposed budget. Senator John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa) urged both universities to be better stewards of the taxpayer dollars they already receive. UC and CSU claim to need a combined total of almost $340 million for higher salaries, and UC plans to use $15 million in bond funds to survey the condition of its campus facilities, something that should be done within the normal course of operations. Recent independent audits of both university systems have criticized their excessive compensation for administrators, and Sen. Moorlach argued that both universities need to better control costs and plan for the long-term in order to focus on their core mission of preparing students for careers.
Another Tax Bait and Switch: In another budget gimmick by the governor, his budget proposes to replace $50 million of UC’s existing General Fund support with the same amount of new Proposition 56 (2016) tobacco tax revenue. Sen. Moorlach called the fund swap a “bait and switch” on the voters who were led to believe that these new taxes would provide funds to increase the number of physicians trained in California, not supplement a bloated administration in the UC. Physician and dentist groups that supported Prop. 56 in the 2016 election have also opposed the governor’s proposal for the tobacco tax money.
Subcommittee #2 (Resources, Environmental Protection, Energy, and Transportation)
Wieckowski (D-Fremont) Chair, Nielsen (R-Tehama), McGuire (D-Santa Rosa), Mendoza (D-Cerritos)
Governor Plans to Weaken Requirements on Cannabis Industry: California’s efforts to regulate the newly legalized cannabis industry are barely underway, but the governor’s proposals threaten to compromise public safety and restrict local control. In a joint hearing, subcommittees 2, 3, and 4 discussed the governor’s proposals, which claim to create a single regulatory structure for medical and recreational cannabis while protecting consumers and safeguarding local control. However, a close look at the details reveals a plan that (1) deletes current laws that help keep neighborhoods and children safe, (2) increases the opportunity for products to enter the black market, (3) eliminates industry checks and balances, (4) continues special treatment of cannabis over other types of agricultural products, and (5) rolls back fire safety and environmental protections placed on the cannabis industry. Local governments and law enforcement are very concerned about these proposed changes. Senate Republicans will continue to advocate for laws that enhance the health and safety of Californians, especially children, in this new world of legal cannabis consumption.
Subcommittee #3 (Health and Human Services)
Pan (D-Sacramento) Chair, Stone (R-Temecula), Monning (D-Santa Cruz)
Cannabis: Joint hearing with subcommittees 2 and 4: see Subcommittee 2 section above.
Supporting Employment Services for Disabled Youth: The subcommittee revisited a budget request from the Department of Rehabilitation for one position to oversee the new California Innovations Program. This program awards federal grants to providers who increase education and work-based learning services for disabled youth. The program focuses on providing employment-related services for students with disabilities that are between the ages of 16 to 21. Senator Jeff Stone (R-Riverside County), a long-time champion of the developmentally disabled, made the motion to fund this position. Sen. Stone has authored several bills on disability services including this year’s SB 499, which would increase funding for the state’s regional centers. The subcommittee approved the item with a bipartisan vote.
Subcommittee #4 (State Administration and General Government)
Roth (D-Riverside) Chair, Wilk (R-Antelope Valley), Glazer (D-Orinda)
Cannabis: Joint hearing with subcommittees 2 and 3: see Subcommittee 2 section above.
Subcommittee #5 (Corrections, Public Safety, and Judiciary)
Skinner (D-Berkeley) Chair, Anderson (R-San Diego), Beall (D-San Jose)
Assault on 2nd Amendment Continues: In 2016 legislative Democrats, seemingly intent on undermining the 2nd Amendment, passed a dozen or so gun control bills despite bipartisan opposition. The subcommittee continued this assault on the U.S. Constitution approving a proposal making it a crime for a person with an outstanding arrest warrant to possess a firearm. Even though an arrest warrant does not equate to a conviction, the proposal would impose a criminal penalty on a person – prohibiting him or her from possessing a firearm – not for a criminal conviction, but for being accused of having committed a crime. Furthermore, a person who legally owns a firearm prior to issuance of an arrest warrant would potentially face an additional criminal charge upon issuance of the warrant, regardless of whether the person is eventually found to be innocent of the original accusation. Senate Republicans believe depriving a person of the constitutional right to own guns requires careful due process of law – something this proposal lacks. The Democrats on the subcommittee approved the proposal by a 2-1 vote, with Senator Joel Anderson (R–San Diego) voting No.
You can view the agendas for next week’s budget subcommittee hearings here.