Friday, January 25, 2008

CA Lawmakers Work to Solve Mortgage Crisis

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) -- California lawmakers are now taking new steps to deal with America's growing mortgage crisis.
Next week, they'll consider a package of bills designed to protect California homeowners, especially those in danger of losing their houses.

The state legislature will try come up with new laws designed to ensure that everyone who applies for a mortgage in California is told exactly what it's going to cost.

One of the biggest supporters of these mortgage bills is East Bay Assemblywoman Loni Hancock.

”I think it’s very much in their interest to work with the people that are taking out the loans and keep the American dream of home owning a dream, and not let it turn into a nightmare,” said Hancock.

California is now facing a huge budget gap as a result of the mortgage crisis and a lackluster economy.

Last week, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a fiscal emergency and unveiled a controversial budget plan. It would cut spending by billions of dollars in the next 18 months, and would affect virtually every service the state provides.

Friday, January 18, 2008

The Budget Games Begin....

Yesterday both the Assembly and the Senate began deliberations on the state budget. Each committee held its first hearing and heard from representatives from the Governor’s Department of Finance and the Legislative Analysts, Elizabeth Hill.

Many are now questioning the motives of the Governor’s budget after Schwarzenegger told the Sacramento Bee that the proposal to close 48 state parks was designed to “rattle the cage.” (See below for more on this story.)

From the Sacramento Bee:
Governor's remarks questioned
Democrats wonder if he's serious about cost-cutting plan with park closures.
By Judy Lin
Democratic lawmakers grilled state finance officials Thursday about Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's comments a day earlier about closing 48 state parks, saying they wondered whether he is serious about his cost-cutting plan.

The Republican governor told The Bee's editorial board Wednesday that his budget proposal was intended to "rattle the cage" at the Capitol, but that he fully expects lawmakers to come forward with alternatives – including higher fees – to keep parks open.

"How can we take, as a Legislature, the seriousness of the solutions put forth by the governor if the governor does not support these?" asked Sen. Alan Lowenthal at one of two legislative budget hearings.

"And why didn't the administration just propose fee increases to ensure access and administration of the state parks?" added the Long Beach Democrat.

Deputy Finance Director Vince Brown said the governor remains committed to containing government spending but is open to a "creative solution" that minimizes the effect on the public.

"That's what 'rattle our cage' means?" Lowenthal asked.

"Obviously, I can't climb into the mind of my boss," Brown replied.

Lawmakers also peppered administration officials with questions about plans to release some prisoners early and to reject cost-of-living increases for the blind. Schwarzenegger has proposed across-the-board reductions to all programs to help erase a projected $14.5 billion deficit.

"It may be fair by program, but it may not be fair by family," said Sen. Denise Ducheny, D-San Diego, chairwoman of the Senate Budget Committee.

You can download a copy of the Assembly’s initial review of the budget at:

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Don't let the Governor slash essential services

Yesterday, Governor Schwarzenegger laid out his cuts and gimmicks to slash critical state services by 10% and introduce a constitutional amendment granting him broad authority to unilaterally cut essential programs (a similar proposal – Proposition 76 - was resoundingly defeated by voters in 2005).

For too long, the discussion around the budget has been dominated by a small minority of legislators who want to see government services cut to the bone. This is because California requires a two-thirds vote requirement to pass a budget. It is a tyranny of the minority.

California’s two-thirds vote requirement concentrates power in the hands of a minority of legislators who choose to take an ideological stance. As a result, the State has been forced to cut and borrow our way out of budget deficits.

The Legislature has enacted a budget every year without any general tax increases. The Governor made the state’s revenue problems worse by eliminating the Vehicle License Fee and allowing a reduction in the yacht tax. He has balanced the budget by slashing programs and excessive borrowing through bonds.

What we do in this budget will effect every one's life. Californians must begin the discussion by focusing on what it takes to provide what we need to have the opportunities to live healthy lives with opportunities to realize our dreams and use our talents -- such as good schools in our communities, drivable roads, buses, trains, clean air, drinkable water, a park to visit with our children and a safety net when times are bad. The Governor conversely has proposed cutting education and closing parks... who will want to live here?

I will continue my unwavering commitment to fully fund education, provide universal health care and protect our environment.

Join me! Speak up! Don't let the Governor unilaterally slash essential services that protect our communities, fund education and provide health care!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

New website on Urban Casino’s


A local Coalition of community leaders, “faith-based” groups and others who oppose allowing urban casinos in our community have put together a website with information, facts and studies on the impact of urban casinos on our East Bay community.

Casino proposals have sprung up in major urban centers around the state particularly in the Bay Area where casinos have been proposed in Oakland, Richmond, and San Pablo. These urban casinos in the East Bay would have significant impact on our community by increasing crime in at-risk communities, increasing gambling addiction, generating traffic on the already congested I-80 and San Pablo corridor, and stripping discretionary money from the local economy.

Check out this website for more information and what you can do to get involved.