Political Playback: California Capitol News You Might Have Missed20

Political Playback: California Capitol News You Might Have Missed20

Photo Courtesy: Senate Rules Photography
Mike McGuire is President pro Tempore of the California Senate. Signs Bond Bill as acting governor.
WRITTEN BY
 BO TEFU | CALIFORNIA BLACK MEDIA

November Election: Calif. Voters to Decide on $10 Billion Bond for Public Education Upgrades

Last week, the California State Legislature approved a $10 million bond proposal to modernize and repair K-12 schools and community colleges statewide.

The education bond measure, Assembly (AB) Bill 247, will appear on this year’s November ballot.

AB 247 aims to upgrade school buildings, allocating $8.5 million to public schools and $1.5 million to community colleges across California.

Authored by Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi (D-Torrance), the measure was authored in collaboration with Assemblymembers Mike Fong (D-Alhambra), and Lori Wilson (D-Suisun City), and Senators Steve Glazer (D-Contra Costa) and Josh Newman (D-Fullerton).

Supporters of the proposition point out that schools in California are over 50 years old, raising safety concerns among community and school leaders. The education bond will provide matching dollars to K-12 school districts based on local priorities and it calls for monitoring spending for local taxpayer accountability.

“California urgently needs a statewide school bond to repair dilapidated and unsafe school facilities and to invest in our children to meet 21st century educational and workforce needs,” said Muratsuchi, an author of the education bond proposal.

Since 1998, the state has been providing $54 billion in education bonds for K-12 schools and institutions of higher education. Voters approved the last successful bond, Proposition 51, during the 2016 November election. That proposition has provided K-12 schools with $7 billion and community colleges with $2 billion for repairs and construction to improve safety.

However, some school district officials are concerned that funds from state and local bonds mostly benefited affluent districts, leaving rural districts disadvantaged.

A report by the Public Policy Institute of California stated that it is easier for the state to match funds from the district in wealthier areas. The report stated that voters in affluent areas are more likely to approve bonds making it easier to raise funds since their property values are higher.

Public Advocates, a nonprofit law firm, threatened to sue the State claiming that the bond system is unconstitutional.

“The Legislature is shooting itself in the foot. What they’ve proposed will only undermine support from voters,” said John Affeldt, an attorney who supports the bill. “But technically they still have time to fix this.”

State officials, on the other hand, remain optimistic about the outcome of the education bond during this year’s November election.

Acting Calif. Gov. McGuire Signs Bill Clearing Way for Nov. Ballot Measure on Water, Wildfire Prevention

Last week, Gov. Gavin Newsom appointed Senate Pro Tem Mike McGuire (D-Healdsburg) as acting governor while he traveled to Washington to support President Biden and travel with him on the campaign trail.

In his capacity as governor, McGuire signed Senate Bill (SB) 867  that clears the way for a ballot measure to appear on the November ballot that connects communities with clean drinking water and protects residents from floods and threats of wildfires.

“The safe drinking water and wildfire prevention bond will sustain and enhance the quality of life in the Golden State by providing communities the resources they need to protect themselves from the growing threat of wildfires and floods and help protect them from the impacts of extreme heat,” said McGuire.

If voters approve the ballot measure that is based on SB 867  — also known as the Safe Drinking Water, Wildfire Prevention, Drought Preparedness, and Clean Air Bond Act of 2024 — the State will provide up to $10 billion in funding to help communities avoid and recover from the harmful impacts of any wildfire, flood, and drought. With the water and wildfire bond, the State is making one of the largest public funding investments in climate change resilience.

McGuire views the bond measure as a critical investment that protects.

As part of the climate bond agreement, California taxpayers are expected to pay back the bond with interest. Financial analysts estimate that the bond repayment will cost approximately $650 million per year over the next 30 years, costing taxpayers an estimated total of $19 billion.

According to the bond measure, the state is required to invest nearly half the funds in disadvantaged communities disproportionately impacted by climate change.

Sen. Padilla Blasts Supreme Court’s Decision Giving Trump Partial Immunity

U.S. Senator Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) condemned the United States Supreme Court Justices 6-3 decision last week granting former President Donald Trump partial immunity from criminal prosecution in his federal election subversion case.

The recent court ruling makes Trump less likely to face trial before this year’s presidential election. The Supreme Court Justices’ decision delays the trial proceedings challenging the legal viability of the case overall. In the court decision, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that a president’s motive is irrelevant to the assessment nor is the fact that an action would have allegedly violated a generally applicable law.

Padilla denounced the court ruling accusing former President Trump of using handpicked justices to abuse the power of the executive and judicial offices for personal and political gain.

“Before today, America’s judicial system was rooted in the simple but fundamental principle that no one is above the law. Not Congress, not the courts, and not even the President of the United States. Today’s decision turns that most fundamental principle on its head,” said Padilla.

Law experts warned that the court ruling alters the possibility of consequences, allowing presidential powers to go unchecked except in the case of a possible impeachment.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote a dissenting opinion arguing that the ruling reshapes the presidency and makes the president above the law. The court’s decision is a blow to the foundation of the U.S. Constitution and government system establishing that, no man is above the law.

“The President of the United States is the most powerful person in the country, and possibly the world. When he uses his official powers in any way, under the majority’s reasoning, he now will be insulated from criminal prosecution,” Sotomayor in her statement of dissent.

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Gov. Newsom to Michigan Voters: Support President Biden

Gov. Gavin Newsom urged Michigan Democrats to back President Joe Biden, despite wavering support in the key swing state.

Newsom asked voters in Michigan to push back on negative information about President Biden’s debate performance against former President Donald Trump debate on June 27 in Atlanta. 

Since the debate, Democrats, including some influential party leaders, have raised questions about the Biden-Harris 2024 presidential ticket based on the President’s slow responses to questions and what appeared to be memory gaps during his match-up with Trump.

Newsom reassured voters in Michigan, stating that, although Biden’s debate performance had a slow start, he presented a better vision for America than his opponent. He made the statement while addressing a group of voters at the Van Buren Dems BBQ for Biden-Harris in South Haven, Michigan, on the Fourth of July.

“I had a lot of talking points in mind, you may have noticed if you saw me, I didn’t bring them with me. And that’s to make the obvious point — things did not go as well as the campaign had hoped, and obviously did not go as well as President Biden had hoped,” said Newsom.

Newsom denied claims that he was running a “shadow campaign” in preparation for replacing Biden as the Democratic presidential nominee.

The governor’s recent visit comes at a critical time as Michigan is a battleground state whose vote will be determinant in the outcome of this year’s presidential election.

“What I need to convince you of is not to be fatalistic, not to fall prey to all this negativity,” Newsom said to supporters at a Democratic campaign event. “I believe in this man. I believe in his character. I believe that he has been one of the most transformative presidents in our collective lifetime.”.

New California Laws Require High School Classes on Drug Education, Financial Literacy and Ethnic Studies

Last week, California became the 26th state to require high school seniors to pass courses focused on finance literacy, adding to a recently added ethnic studies prerequisite and a health class requirement focused on the dangers of fentanyl use.

The senior class of 2031 will be the first group of students to take the mandatory financial literacy course. California school districts are required to implement Assembly Bill 2927, authored by Assemblymember Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento), at the beginning of the 2027-2028 academic year.

The bill works hand-in-hand with newly approved Assembly Bill 2429, authored by Assemblymember David Alvarez (D-San Diego). That law requires students to take health classes that discuss the dangers of fentanyl use and illegal drugs commencing in the 2026-2027 school year.

Both bills require high school seniors to complete the designated coursework during any semester between the ninth and twelfth grades. High school students in charter schools are also required to complete the state-mandated coursework. Under this law, local educational agencies will impose the required courses using state-mandated local programs.

McCarty said that the financial literacy classes will prepare students for the future and empower them to make smart money decisions throughout life.

“It’s such an important life skill,” he said. “The stressors that young people face today — especially student loans, renting, buying a house, credit cards all those things are so critically important, and if you fall behind. The consequences have a serious impact later in life.”

Unlike the bill on financial literacy that imposes classes as a graduation requirement, the bill on health education allows school districts to choose if health classes are a graduation prerequisite.

Alvarez said that health education can help address the state’s fentanyl epidemic, specifically among the youth.

“I think it’s important… that we share facts with young people, especially these days as they rely more and more on social media with misinformation,” said Alvarez.

“There’s still no better-trusted source than our schools for students and for families to receive the information that they need in order to make better decisions and better choices,” he continued.

Gov. Gavin Newsom said the state needs to help prepare young people in a statement backing the bills.

 “Saving for the future, making investments, and spending wisely are lifelong skills that young adults need to learn before they start their careers, not after,” the Governor said in statement backing the education bills.

Starting in the 2025-2026 academic year, the state will also require high school seniors to take an additional one-semester course on ethnic studies.

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