May 2015 District Report
Welcome to the May edition of the O'Donnell Capitol Connection. I hope you all enjoyed the Memorial Day weekend with friends and family close at hand. As we head into summer, there are plenty of exciting events to tell you about and updates to share from both the District and the Capitol. Read the latest news in my May Update:
- Letter from Patrick
- Teacher Recognition Ceremony Nominations
- Fostering a Change Moves into First Home
- PortTech LA Tour
- AB 531
- Day of the Teacher
- Upcoming Events
LETTER FROM PATRICK
With the announcement of the May Revise and the Assembly voting on their own proposals to send to the Governor, the legislature is in high gear preparing the 2015-2016 California State Budget. After years of economic recession, California is once again back in the black, reporting a budget surplus that has climbed to nearly $7 billion.
As a father, classroom teacher and Chair of the Assembly Education Committee, I know there is no better investment than the one we make in our children. This means restoring California's status as world leader in education and ensuring students have the resources they need to succeed in the workplace.
This month, my colleagues on the Budget Subcommittee on Education Finance and I voted to make students the top priority. The proposal we approved provides over $69 billion in Prop. 98 General Fund money for K12 schools and community colleges, including $6.3 billion for the Local Control Funding Formula -- $160 million more than the Governor's May Revise.
Looking beyond traditional classrooms, the budget also invests $400 million for career technical education and $64 million for special education programs. Included in these funds are much needed reforms in how California treats special needs students and expanded access to early education for our state's most vulnerable students.
I always say: a tired kid is a good kid. Children who continue to be engaged in the learning process after school are more likely to harness their full academic potential and have greater access to higher education opportunities. To that end, the Assembly Budget adds $50 million to expand After School Education and Safety programs so more students can take advantage of these critical offerings.
While California will no doubt benefit from these investments, it is equally important that we continue setting aside revenues for leaner years down the road. I know from experience the difficulty of cutting programs when the economy sours and believe we can do more to protect against the volatility of past budget cycles. That is why the Assembly budget proposal adds an additional $600 million to the Rainy Day Fund as a fiscally responsible measure to ensure we maintain these programs during the next economic downturn.
The California Constitution requires the annual budget be passed by the Legislature before June 16. I hope you will join me for my interactive budget town hall on June 6 (more information below) to discuss your spending priorities for the state and how we can continue pushing for the California comeback!
IN THE DISTRICT
Nominations Open for Inaugural Teacher Recognition Ceremony
Having taught in the classroom for over 20 years, I know firsthand the hard work and dedication that goes into educating our students. In honor of one of our society's most valuable professions, I am hosting the inaugural Teacher Recognition & Appreciation Ceremony on June 11 with State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson.
In order to make this reception a success, I am asking for your help in identifying those extraordinary educators who have gone above and beyond in service of our students. If you know a teacher in the 70th Assembly District that deserves special recognition, simply follow the link below and fill out the nomination form.
I am pleased to have this opportunity to express our gratitude for teachers' commitment to fostering the young minds of tomorrow and hope you will join me in singing their praises. Details about the ceremony can be found below in the upcoming events section.
FOSTERING A CHANGE MOVES INTO ITS FIRST HOME
Fostering a Change is an organization devoted to providing a unique, empowering and supportive living environment for young women ages 18-23 who were raised in California's foster care system. I had the pleasure of attending their ribbon cutting ceremony at its very first home, the Lotus House in Long Beach. Special thanks to the Communications Department at CSU, Long Beach who worked with Fostering a Change to plan, fundraise and organize this terrific event.
Jennifer Valko, Executive Director of Fostering a Change receives a certificate of recognition from Assemblymember O'Donnell at the organization's ribbon cutting ceremony.
PORTTECH LA IN SAN PEDRO HIGHLIGHTS SUSTAINABLE TECHNOLOGIES
In May, I had the chance to meet and tour PortTech Los Angeles located in San Pedro. Part of the CleanTech LA initiative, PortTech LA is a clean tech business incubator dedicated to ports and the maritime industry. They assist entrepreneurs and investors to innovate the advancement of clean technologies. In addition to promoting sustainable technologies, PortTeach LA is also helping to create jobs right here in the 70th District!
During my tour, I met with the CEOs of several startups and discussed ways Sacramento can aide in their growth moving forward.
For more information on the program and what they do visit their website at www.porttechla.org.
PortTech LA Executive Director Stan Tomsic and Assemblymember O'Donnell discuss the innovative technologies being developed by member companies.
Legislation Providing School Districts Greater Fiscal Freedom Garners Broad Based Support
School districts need the financial freedom to ensure their future needs can be met, which is why I have introduced Assembly Bill 531. The legislation grants school districts enhanced spending flexibility in the wake of a budget reserve cap enacted last year and is making tremendous progress thanks to bi-partisan votes in committees. Once enacted, the measure will effectively address local school districts' concerns the cap leaves them unable to save for maintenance projects, instructional materials and technology upgrades.
Current law requires California school districts to spend down their reserves and ending balances when the state makes even a minimal contribution to the Proposition 98 reserve. Such a strict interpretation of the cap's provisions prevents districts from setting aside funds for large expenditures, which range from new school buses to roof replacements. Under my proposal, we will clarify money set aside in a committed reserve is exempt from the cap and the allocation of those funds will require a vote of the governing board. The move is a win-win for both local school districts whose hands have been tied by the cap and the public who will have an opportunity to see how much and where the money is being allocated.
This bill now moves to the Assembly floor.
MAY 13 DESIGNATED AS OFFICIAL DAY OF THE TEACHER
Teaching is one of the most noble of callings and contributes more to the betterment of our community than any other profession. As a symbol of the state's appreciation for these classroom heroes, I was proud to introduce a resolution celebrating May 13th, as “Day of the Teacher” in honor of educators who go to work every day to nurture the goals and aspirations of future generations.
Assemblymember O'Donnell presents resolution declaring May 13 as Day of the Teacher.
Budget Town Hall with Next 10 – June 6, 2015
In partnership with Next 10, my office will host a budget town hall meeting on June 6 to engage residents on California's state budget process. The public will have an opportunity to weigh in on the budget negotiations now taking place in Sacramento. Participants are encouraged to take the Next 10 Budget Challenge, which allows individuals to craft their own budget and choose their own spending priorities for California. Additionally, there will be a presentation by Next 10's Program director Sarah Henry, who will explain how the challenge works and discuss recently added features. Be sure to check out my Facebook, Twitter and website for more details.
Teacher Appreciation Reception – June 11, 2015
It is my pleasure to welcome Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson as we come together in honor of the tremendous work being done by teachers in the 70th Assembly District. The reception will take place at the Expo Arts Center located at 4321 Atlantic Avenue in Long Beach. The event is open to the public and RSVPs can be submitted through the website or by calling my district office. Nomination submissions can be directed to Allison in my District Office at 562-495-2915 or at Allison.Gallagher@asm.ca.gov.
Long Beach Breakwater Awareness Event – June 13, 2015
Please join me for a day of surf, sun and special guests at our Breakwater Awareness Event on June 13th from 11:00am to 2:00pm. We will be drawing attention to efforts to transform the Long Beach waterfront into a family friendly surf spot for residents to enjoy. More information to come so be sure to follow me on Facebook and Twitter.
Summer Internship Opportunity
My District Office is seeking motivated high school and college students as well as recent graduates for our District Internship Program this summer! Summer interns will have the opportunity to gain first-hand knowledge of the State Legislature and community outreach as well as expand their resume and professional network.
More information and application are available on my website. Questions? Please contact Allison Gallagher in my office at 562-495-2915 or Allison.Gallagher@asm.ca.gov.