June has been a particularly full month both in Sacramento and back home in the district.
At the Capitol. During the first week of June, the Legislature had to meet what is called the “House of Origin” deadline, meaning measures had to pass out of the respective houses in which they were introduced by June 5 (e.g. Senate Bills had to pass out of the Senate and vice versa). Altogether the Senate passed 203 measures and the Assembly passed 407. I share with you thoughts on some of those bills later on in this newsletter.
Once reaching this point, attention turned to consideration of the state budget. The Legislature has an annual constitutional obligation to pass its version to the governor by June 15. This year, legislative Democrats initially pushed through a budget that included almost $2 billion more in ongoing spending than the Governor’s proposed draft. A day later, a compromise was reached that is much closer to the Governor’s preferred budget plan. Even still, the budget ups spending by $13 billion over last year and sets a record for overall spending of $267 billion.
In every budget, there are things to like. For example, this budget pays down the wall of debt by an additional $7 billion. However, the budget also includes provisions that make it largely unsupportable. It continues to devote resources to high-speed rail ($500 million), while at the same time reduce accountability in the project’s construction by cutting down the number of status reports it presents to the Legislature from two per year to only one every other year. Additionally, the budget provides things like welfare cash grants for felons and expands the state telephone program by $142.8 million to pay for unlimited minutes, texting, and internet access. Is this the best use of Californians’ tax dollars?
In the district. With all that has been going on at the Capitol, it has been good to still be able to get back home and spend time with folks here in the district. This month, I had the opportunity to install the new executive board members of the Menifee Valley Chamber of Commerce, spoke to veterans at the 70th annual AMVETS convention held in Ontario, met with Rancho Cucamonga residents for a discussion over coffee about pending legislation, and worked with Facebook and the Redlands Chamber of Commerce to put on a seminar geared toward helping small businesses maximize their presence on the social media site. I look forward to opportunities to do more of the same as the summer progresses.
As always, it is a privilege to represent you in the State Legislature. I’ll keep you posted.
Calimesa Elementary Students Visit Capitol. The first week in June was a busy one, but I was able to take some time to welcome 3rd and 4th graders from Calimesa Elementary School during their trip to the Capitol. Included here are their teachers Mrs. Beilstein, Mrs. Castro, Mr. Beltran, and Mr. Jimenez.
AMVETS Convention. I was honored to speak at the 70th Annual Convention of the AMVETS Department of California Service Foundation in Ontario. Pictured here (from left to right) are Pete Conaty, Commander Greg Raffa, myself, Smokey Rickerd, and Lorraine Plass.
Menifee Chamber Installation. The Menifee Valley Chamber held its 38th Annual Installation and Awards Ceremony earlier this month. I had the opportunity to swear in the new officers and visit with members who are all committed to seeing area businesses thrive. A great (western-themed) event!
23rd Senate District Small Business of the Year - Jensen’s Foods. This month I had the privilege of recognizing Jensen’s Foods as the 23rd Senate District Small Business of the Year, represented by company vice president Matt Zack. Family-owned and operated for 75 years now, they are an important partner in the mountain and desert communities they serve. Read more here.
Welcoming Reagan Back to Sacramento. On June 22, the Ronald Reagan Centennial Foundation unveiled a new statue of President Reagan in the Lower Rotunda of the State Capitol. He is the only individual to serve as both Governor of California and President of the United States. I am pictured here with my colleagues (from left to right) Jim Nielsen (R-Gerber), John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa), Jean Fuller (R-Bakersfield), Sharon Runner (R-Lancaster), Bob Huff (R-San Dimas), Ted Gaines (R-El Dorado Hills), and Pat Bates (R-Laguna Niguel).
In this brief update, I’ve highlighted some measures of note that were considered during the week of the House of Origin deadline, during which time bills had to pass out of the respective houses in which they were introduced by June 5 (e.g. Senate Bills had to pass out of the Senate and vice versa). I also included how I voted on each of them.
Senate Bill 2 (Anderson, R-San Diego, and Vidak, R-Hanford) - YES
Senate Bill 2 would preserve property tax exemptions for Veterans Halls so that they can continue to provide high quality and important services to those who have served in the military, even if they rent out their property at a fee. I am a principal co-author of this measure
Senate Bill 111 (Fuller, R-Bakersfield) - YES
California has 11 schools in 6 school districts on the Secretary of Defense Priority List that qualify for the Public Schools on Military Installations (PSMI) Grant Program. This money is used for the renovation, repair or reconstruction of schools facilities located near military bases that serve military families. SB 111 would provide as much as $6 million in state resources to secure up to $240 million from the Department of Defense.
Senate Bill 251 (Roth, D-Riverside) - YES
SB 251 would provide relief to businesses who are demonstrating a concerted effort to comply with Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessibility requirements by providing an opportunity to resolve identified construction-related violations without being subject to penalties or litigation costs. The measure seeks to rein in frivolous lawsuits that are brought against business owners, often for financial gain, and not necessarily to further accommodate individuals who deserve access to public places.
Senate Bill 722 (Bates, R-Laguna Niguel) - YES
SB 722 would address the increasing number of high-risk sex offender parolees who willfully remove or disable their GPS devices by making this action a felony.
Senate Bill 128 (Wolk, D-Davis) - NO
SB 128 would make physician-assisted death legal in California. Circumstances surrounding the end of one’s life are personal and emotional. For those that receive a terminal diagnosis, it can also be overwhelming, not only for the individual, but also for family, friends, and loved ones. However, I am uncomfortable making physician-assisted death legal in our state. I do not think the consequences of enacting a law like this one are entirely known and fear that such a policy could open the door to abuse. I also agree with the American Medical Association’s characterization that the practice is “fundamentally incompatible with the physician’s role as a healer.”
Senate Bill 185 (de Leon, D-Los Angeles) - NO
The primary duty of the state’s pension boards is to make sound investments that generate profitable returns. SB 185 would weaken their ability to do so, however, by directing them to divest their holdings in coal-related assets. The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office estimates that our state faces upwards of $340 billion in unfunded liabilities. The legislature should not be experimenting with their financial security.
Senate Bill 406 (Jackson, D-Santa Barbara) - NO
SB 406 would place an undue burden on both small and large employers by expanding the mandate requiring employers to grant 12 weeks of protected leave to employees. California already has a reputation as one of the least business-friendly states in the country. SB 406 would add to this narrative and make it more difficult for businesses to thrive here. You can watch my remarks about this bill on the Senate Floor here.
On Tuesday, July 14, Board of Equalization Members George Runner and Diane Harkey will be sponsoring a nonprofit tax seminar in Rancho Cucamonga. Topics will include Sales and Use Tax for Nonprofit Organizations, Employment Taxes for Nonprofit Organizations, Regulation of Charities, Property Tax Exemptions, Compliance for Exempt Organizations, and Local Resources for Nonprofits.
EVENT: Rancho Cucamonga Nonprofit Tax Seminar
WHEN: Tuesday, July 14, 2015
9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. (check-in starts at 8:30 a.m.)
WHERE: Goldy S. Lewis Community Center (at Central Park)
11200 Base Line Road
Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91730
Parking is free.
On Saturday, July 18, I’ll be hosting a free pancake breakfast in Redlands for veterans and military families. If you have served in the Armed Forces or have a loved one who is serving, please stop by and allow us to thank you for your dedication to our country. My staff and I will also be available to discuss pending legislation including Senate Bill 418, which would help California State University students on active duty complete their degrees.
WHEN: Saturday, July 18, 2015
8:00 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.
WHERE: Sylvan Park
988 East High Avenue
FOR MORE INFORMATION: Contact the District Office at (909) 919-7731 or visit senatormikemorrell23.eventbrite.com
At this year’s Patriots of the Past, Present, & Future, I had the honor of recognizing Navy veteran Darci Castillejos of Menifee as Patriot of the Present in the Business Category.
Darci joined the Navy Reserve in 1994 and by 2007 rose to the rank of Chief Petty Officer. She is currently assigned to the Navy Cargo Handling Battalion 14, Delta Company as the senior enlisted leader for 31 sailors. Last year, Darci was called up to active duty to provide expeditionary logistics support to Special Operations Forces stationed at Bagram Air Field in Bagram, Afghanistan.
In addition to her time in the military, Darci has been the owner of multiple restaurants and currently manages the French Valley Café. Darci also served as the Chairwoman of the Menifee Valley Chamber of Commerce and President of the Menifee Valley Middle School PTSA.
Please join me in thanking Darci for her service.
Temecula native Kali Navarrete is currently interning in our District Office. She is a junior at Cal State San Bernardino working toward her undergraduate degree in political science. Formerly a communications major, Kali found herself drawn to political science after taking classes in international politics, particularly East Asian and Middle Eastern politics.
Kali is considering careers in both political journalism and constitutional law. Her long-standing aspiration is to write for National Geographic, focusing on world news. While she was originally interested in pursuing political journalism from a young age, she developed a love for constitutional law after attending a private lecture given by Justice Anthony Kennedy at the Palm Desert campus of CSUSB. His remarks covered the Magna Carta, the Rule of Law, and the U.S. Constitution. To further her knowledge of American government, Kali is studying the judicial process and constitutional law. Additionally, she has been researching state legislation through her internship in our office.
On campus, Kali is a member of Kappa Delta Sorority, managing Public Relations for her chapter. Kali is a Girl Scout leader with the San Gorgonio troop and volunteers through both CSUSB and Kappa Delta Sorority to raise money for Prevent Child Abuse America and Childhelp Village in Beaumont.
In her free time, Kali enjoys outdoor activities such as kayaking or hiking, as well as painting and reading classic novels. Kali hopes to travel after her graduation next year and experience different cultures through organizations such as International Volunteer HQ.
Thank you for your hard work, Kali!
With the passage of another record-setting state budget, it is more important than ever to reflect on the role of government and how much we are spending to sustain it.
As Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1979-1990, Margaret Thatcher was a strong proponent of reining in spending and ensuring that the Conservative government under her watch was accountable to the taxpayers.
In this video, Thatcher addresses a 1983 meeting of the Conservative Party and articulates the bold fact that “the state has no source of money other than the money that people earn themselves.”
Source: Cal Facts 2014, Legislative Analyst’s Office
Personal income is a broad measure of economic activity in California. It measures wages and salaries and various other types of income, but it excludes capital gains (income resulting from sales of assets, such as stocks and homes).
Taxes on personal income are the largest state revenue source. In some years, it can account for as much as 50 percent of the total revenue collected.
As shown above, these taxes are much more volatile than statewide personal income. This is partly because California taxes capital gains, which are especially volatile and mainly go to high-income taxpayers who pay the highest tax rates.
With government spending growing, we need to keep these trends in mind. When a recession hits, it does so suddenly and upends our state’s finances, such as in 01-02 and 08-09. It is unsustainable to continue increasing the size of the budget without taking into account that another economic downturn is inevitable.