The first piece below was picked up by California Political Review, but originates in the Cabinet Report. It provides a perspective on the Senate Education Committee meeting last week, where I introduced SB 590 (also see MOORLACH UPDATE — PACE and HERO — April 30, 2017 april 30, 2017 john moorlach).
Since 2014, there have been several attempts to repeal a cap that prohibits school districts from saving for a rainy day. This is a classic battle between elected school boards and the public teachers unions on control of tax dollars to operate school districts. Consequently, SB 590 is a righteous bill. But, it is not the only bill addressing this fiscally unconscionable issue. SB 751 by Senator Jerry Hill is also focused on this matter, is convoluted, but passed out of Committee. I still believe that SB 590 is a better bill than SB 751. To see my presentation, go to http://moorlach.cssrc.us/content/senator-moorlach-seeks-protect-students-during-budget-shortfalls.
Addressing this arbitrary threshold is a bipartisan issue. Sacramento Democrats and Republicans have agreed that capping reserves limits options for schools, with 26 Sacramento Democrats – including the Chair of the Senate Education Committee, Senator Ben Allen – signing a letter to legislative leaders to get rid of the ban. Even Democrat State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson weighed in on this issue in a budget hearing earlier this year. So expect to see more on this subject matter in the near future.
This week I presented SB 59 in the Senate Governance and Finance Committee, on which I serve. After making the suggested modifications from the consultant, the bill passed without opposition and also garnered key support from the Committee Chair, Senator Mark McGuire, and the head of the Senate Mental Health Caucus, Senator Jim Beall. Both requested to be co-authors of the bill (also see MOORLACH UPDATE — Senate Bill 59 — February 7, 2017 february 7, 2017 john moorlach and MOORLACH UPDATE — Fairview Developmental Center — February 11, 2017 february 11, 2017 john moorlach). It now goes before the Senate Governmental Organization Committee.
The Daily Pilot provides the conclusion of its trilogy on the pension concerns impacting the Huntington Beach City Council in the second piece below (also see MOORLACH UPDATE — PACE and HERO — April 30, 2017 april 30, 2017 john moorlach and MOORLACH UPDATE — Cronyism — April 21, 2017 april 21, 2017 john moorlach).
The discussion at the Huntington Beach City Council meeting provides a glimpse of things to come. CalPERS artificially kept employer contribution rates low for years, and now it is time to pay the proverbial piper. Taking a representative of CalPERS to task is an appropriate thing to do. Regretfully, it is not the staff of CalPERS that need a verbal lashing, its the majority of the CalPERS Board that does. The pension liability numbers are now at the staggering stage, in the near future budget officers will be facing a formidable task.
Last week’s schedule did not provide for many breaks to type out a media request about my immigrant experience. But, it is nice to know that there are at least eight of us Californians who have enjoyed this country to the point of attaining a position in the State Legislature. And I certainly proved that anyone can get elected to office. As the comedian Yakov Smirnoff was famous for saying, "America, what a country!"
KQED News provides the results of their requests for essays in the third piece below.
Legislation Moving Quickly to Allow NON QUALIFIED People Given Teaching Credentials in California
By Stephen Frank
If SB 533 passes, the Democrats will be allowed to declare a State of emergency and hire unqualified people as teachers—and your child will be held hostage in a dangerous school with “teachers” that are admittedly unqualified. Any wonder the Democrats have a bill SB 808 that would limit the issuance of charter school permits.
“SB 533 by Sen. Anthony Portantino, D-La Canada-Flintridge, which would allow the governor to declare a “state of need” because of the teacher shortage. With that declaration, school districts would be allowed to employ teachers that do not have valid credentials, but who would get support and training from the hiring district.”
Note that Charter schools have no problem finding teachers—maybe if regular government schools allowed teachers to teach, took the unions OFF the campus, did not force teachers to pay bribes to work, there would not be a shortage of teachers. It is the attitude of government, taking education out of the classroom, that is the cause of teacher shortages. Charter schools work—government schools are holding actions. What do you want for your child?
by Tom Chorneau, Cabinet Report
(Calif.) Members of an important legislative policy committee gave conditional support to bills that would temporarily reduce teacher training requirements and provide charter schools better access to surplus property, but they rejected a measure that would have repealed district funding reserve caps.
Meanwhile the state Senate’s Education Committee moved with strong support a mandate that California-grown food should be used frequently in school lunches, as well as a bill that would add financial literacy to the list of courses high school students would need to obtain a diploma.
And the committee delayed voting on one of this session’s most controversial education bills; legislation that would allow districts to deny authorization of a charter school based only on the potential financial impact the new entity would have on the district.
With a deadline pending next week, lawmakers are scrambling between their committee assignments to hear and vote on pending bills and making presentations themselves in hopes of moving their proposals along.
April 28 is the last day for policy committees to move bills ahead that will have a fiscal impact. By June 2, all active bills need to have been approved in their house of origin.
Perhaps of greatest interest is SB 808 by Sen. Tony Mendoza, D-Artesia, which would give districts far more power to curb charter growth. The bill is one of three being sponsored by the California Teachers Association aimed at restricting charter schools and already generating significant political drama.
At the request of the author, the education committee took public testimony on SB 808 but put off taking a vote. Committee chair Sen. Paul [sic] Allen, D-Santa Monica, said he intends to hold another hearing on the issue of charter authorization later in the summer.
Also controversial and also generating a split vote was SB 533 by Sen. Anthony Portantino, D-La Canada-Flintridge, which would allow the governor to declare a “state of need” because of the teacher shortage. With that declaration, school districts would be allowed to employ teachers that do not have valid credentials, but who would get support and training from the hiring district.
Portantino’s bill has the support of EdVoice, a nonprofit advocacy group most closely associated with the charter movement, but is opposed by the California Teachers Association.
The CTA and the California Charter Schools Association are on either side of SB 765 from Sen. Scott Weiner, D-San Francisco. Weiner’s bill requires charter schools be given first right of refusal over property that a district intends on selling or leasing, with some exceptions.
The committee moved the bill to the Appropriations Committee on a vote of 5-1 with one abstention.
Of the major bills before the committee, only SB 590 by Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, was outright rejected. That bill would have repealed a highly-contentious cap on how much money districts can keep in reserve—a mandate worked out behind closed doors two years ago between Gov. Jerry Brown and the CTA.
Although the CTA was strongly opposed to the bill and Moorlach is a Republican—SB 590 is one of three bills pending before the Legislature on the reserve cap issue and two of them sponsored by Democrats.
SB 751 by Democratic Senators Jerry Hill of San Mateo and Steve Glazer from Orinda, would make adjustments to when the cap would be triggered while exempting some spending. AB 235 by Patrick O’Donnell, D-Long Beach, would make similar changes.
CalPERS’ pension fund ‘shortfall’ will cost Huntington Beach $23 million more
During Monday’s meeting, Huntington Beach City Council members voted to support pension-reform legislation proposed by state Sen. John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa). (File photo / Associated Press)
By Ben Brazil
Huntington Beach must pay another $23 million to the California Public Employees’ Retirement System pension fund over the next few years, an agency representative said at Monday’s City Council meeting.
Kerry Worgan, a senior CalPERS actuary, said the city will have to contribute another $23 million over a few years, due to a half-point decrease in the assumed investment returns from 7.5% to 7%.
The representative’s appearance was approved by the council at the last meeting after being proposed by Councilman Billy O’Connell.
O’Connell took umbrage Monday with the agency’s request for increased contributions, saying CalPERS has “failed” the city because residents are going to have to foot the bill to cover the shortfall between the fund’s performance and what retired city employees are contractually owed.
O’Connell asked Worgan who is responsible for the $23 million “shortfall.”
“I don’t know if anyone in particular is responsible, it’s a reflection of the economic times,” Worgan responded. “If we don’t think we can earn 7.5%, it’s immoral to assume we can earn that, knowing we can only earn 7%.”
Worgan said CalPERS’ returns have been tempered by global market performance.
O’Connell was not content with the answer.
“We have huge needs in this city,” O’Connell said. “Do you realize the impact you’re having on our city? The impact you’re having on this state with all these jurisdictions you represent is terrible.”
Councilman Erik Peterson said the city has unmet needs, such as road repairs, that are also pressing.
Also at the meeting, the council voted to support pension-reform legislation proposed by state Sen. John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa).
Moorlach has proposed three bills and three amendments to the state Constitution. One amendment would “prohibit public employers from increasing retirement benefits for their employees without two-thirds voter approval.”
Originally, the council considered the item April 17 but voted to have the Intergovernmental Relations Committee review the legislation before the council took another vote to conform to established protocol.
The IRC, which voted to support the legislation, is a council subcommittee formed by Mayor Barbara Delgleize, Mayor Pro Tem Mike Posey and Councilwoman Jill Hardy. The group reviews pending legislation and its potential effects on the city.
Meet the Immigrant Legislators Putting Their Stamp on the Capitol
By Katie Orr
Immigration, both documented and undocumented, has come under more scrutiny since President Donald Trump took office. Since California is home to an estimated 10 million or more immigrants, the issue has particular resonance here.
As a result, state government is increasingly taking up bills supporters say will help protect that population. And immigrants themselves are becoming more involved in the political process. These eight immigrants are members of the state Legislature, and are helping to craft policy at the state Capitol — or in some cases to oppose it.
Assemblywoman Blanca Rubio, (D-Baldwin Park), Mexico
Blanca Rubio was elected to the Assembly last November. The oldest of five children, Rubio spent her early years in Juarez, Mexico. When she was a young girl, Rubio moved with her parents to a small town in Texas where her father had a construction job, but no work permit. Her father was eventually found out and the family was deported back to Mexico.
When she was 8-years-old, Rubio and her family successfully arrived in Los Angeles, again as undocumented immigrants. She spoke English, but her younger brother Robert did not.
“Instead of putting him in an (English as a Second Language) class, they put him in a special education classroom. And to this day he’s suffered the effects of being, basically misdiagnosed,” she says.
Her brother’s experience is what pushed Rubio to become politically involved.
“I couldn’t do anything, I was eight and my parents didn’t speak English,” she says. “I feel like every time I’m speaking up for somebody, I want to save my brother, and I can’t do that.”
Rubio, who eventually became a citizen, says she now sees it as part of her job to humanize undocumented immigrants for some of her more conservative colleagues.
“At least if I can change their perspective on, I’m a real person,” Rubio says. “Like, we hang out, we went to dinner, we had a drink, all of that. I was undocumented. So I’m not this evil person.”
Rubio’s sister Susan, the current Mayor pro-Tem of Baldwin Park, is running for the state Senate in 2018. Rubio says, together, they’d be a force to be reckoned with.
Senator Janet Nguyen, (R- Garden Grove), Vietnam
Janet Nguyen drew attention recently when she was removed from the Senate floor after criticizing the late State Sen. Tom Hayden. Nguyen and her family fled Vietnam after the war, and she was speaking out against Hayden’s support of communist North Vietnam during the war.
Nguyen was born in Saigon in 1976. Her father served in the South Vietnamese Army, helping the U.S. during the war. After Saigon fell to the communists in 1975, Nguyen’s family was faced with the prospect of being sent to a “reeducation camp.”
Instead they left Saigon and went to live in her grandmother’s village until they could escape the country on a boat. Nguyen’s father and brother went first. She, her mom and sister followed about a year later.
“By the time we got to Thailand, (the) government was so full of refugees that they weren’t taking in any more,” she says. “When we got there, every time our boat came in they would drag our boat back out.”
The group ended up swimming to shore in Thailand. Eventually the family was reunited and sponsored as refugees by a California church group. They arrived in the state in 1981, just as Ronald Reagan was putting his stamp on the Republican party. The family, and many Vietnamese, saw him as the person who gave them refuge and took a strong stance against communism.
Nguyen says she worked hard and eventually found herself at UC Irvine. During her sophomore year she took a politics class, which lead to Nguyen changing her major to political science.
“A year after I changed my major is when I told my parents,” Nguyen recalls. “And what they said to me is, ‘Wait a minute, we escaped the government. Now you’re one of them,’” she says.
“What I realized though is everything we do in our life is governed by government whether we like it or not. I wanted to be there when laws were created for or against someone like me.”
Nguyen went on to win election to the Garden Grove City Council, then the Orange County Board of Supervisors in 2007. In 2014 she was elected to the state Senate. Nguyen says people in her community require good-paying jobs and quality schools but also help when they need it.
“I always tell my constituents when you need me the most, the government, I will always be here for you,” she says. “But when you are so done with me, hand it back to me and I can help the next Janet Nguyen family.”
Assemblyman Ash Kalra, (D-San Jose), Canada
Ash Kalra’s parents are natives of India, but were living in Canada when he was born. The family moved to San Jose when he was 6-years-old. Kalra became San Jose’s first Indian-American city council member when he won a seat in 2008. He says his desire to enter public service developed early during a childhood trip to India.
“I would see boys my age that looked like me, coming up to me begging me for money. That was the first realization I had that there was a difference in my life compared to so many others,” he says.
“It wasn’t just the sense of feeling lucky, but also the sense of obligation that, even at that young age, I carried with me in the back of my mind.”
His political victories have gotten him lots of attention in his community. He won election to the Assembly in November, where he’s not only the first Indian-American to serve, but also the first Hindu. And Kalra says many in the community look to him on big issues like immigration. For instance, he says the media often focuses on Latinos when talking about undocumented immigrants. But he points out many living here illegally are also Asian and Pacific Islanders (API).
“API at times can feel invisible on these larger conversations,” he says. “Part of it is self-inflicted, where we are not as vocal on the issues that impact us. And some of it is that we just haven’t been as thoroughly engaged.”
Kalra says he’s seeing more Indians like himself getting involved in politics as the field becomes more accepted within his community. He’s part of a growing number of Indian-American lawmakers, including U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris and Silicon Valley Congressman Ro Khanna.
How has being an immigrant affected the way you approach legislation and issues relevant to your district?
We asked the following lawmakers:
Assemblyman Adrin Nazarian, (D-Sherman Oaks), Iran
“I was very young when my parents made the difficult decision to leave Iran. I remember hiding in our building’s basement while exploding bombs rocked the foundation of my childhood home. The sadness I felt when my family was separated. My mother and me fleeing to Cyprus, and then Germany; finally arriving in our new home: the San Fernando Valley.
“War is unforgiving and incomprehensible through the eyes of a child, but the compassion of strangers, small acts of community along the journey to safety, stood out.
“As I got older, I saw that my community — a community that was largely distrusting of the government — was missing out on being represented, on having our voices heard. So I got involved, going door-to-door, registering voters, and engaging my community in issues that affected us. I worked with others to identify and empower people in our community to run for local office and spread awareness even further.
“My aim as a legislator is to give voice to all of my constituents. I find it extremely important to connect with people on a human level and meeting with constituents is always one of my biggest privileges and priorities. I want to break down barriers and help my constituents realize that politics is power, and to have a voice, they need to speak up! The issues that affect our communities—affordable housing, education, eradicating homelessness, clean water, quality health care, and efficient transportation options—impact us all, regardless of where we may have been born.”
Assemblyman Ed Chau, (D-Monterey Park), Hong Kong
“As the legislator for the 49th Assembly District, representing the first state district in which Asian-Americans make up a majority of the population and where we have a large number of foreign-born voters, I strive to serve the diverse needs of the district’s constituents; particularly in the areas of language access, mental health, education and small business assistance.
“Being a first generation lawmaker provides me the opportunity to communicate with many of these constituents, oftentimes in their language or dialect. I am also able to identify with their obstacles, and, as a result, encourage them to get involved in the political process. By soliciting input about their struggles, I am also able to give voice to issues of importance to them that sometimes may go unnoticed or unspoken.”
Assemblyman Kansen Chu, (D-San Jose), Taiwan
“I was born in Taiwan and moved to the United States in 1976 as a graduate student. I had the honor of serving on the San Jose City Council for seven years. I was the first Chinese-American to serve on that region’s council. Previous to city council, I served on the Berryessa Union School Board for five years.
“My personal story reflects that of many first generation immigrant families in California. I represent the 25th Assembly District, one of the most ethnically diverse districts in all of California. It is one that embodies a rich tapestry of culture, language, belief systems and stories similar like mine. That is why when I am in Sacramento, I prioritize making decisions that will directly benefit my constituents.
“As an example, with the uptick of hate crimes within the Asian, Muslim and Indian American communities, I authored AB 158, a bill that will create uniform hate crime reporting for law enforcement. I also was appointed the chair of the Assembly Select Committee on Hate Crimes to provide opportunities for my constituents to have a direct seat at the table to discuss these critical issues.”
Assemblyman Steven Choi, (R-Irvine), South Korea
Asm. Choi did not provide an answer.
Choi was born in South Korea and earned his bachelor’s degree from Kyung Hee University in Seoul. He came to the United States as a Peace Corps language instructor for the State Department in August, 1968. Choi went on to earn his master’s degree in Library Science from Louisiana State University, and his Ph.D. in Library and Information Science at the University of Pittsburgh.
He was elected to the Irvine City Council in 2004 and was elected mayor in 2012. He won election to the State Assembly in 2016.
Senator John Moorlach, (R-Costa Mesa), Netherlands
Sen. Moorlach did not provide an answer.
Moorlach came to the United States with his family from the Netherlands when he was four. He’s a certified public accountant and certified financial planner, and served as the Orange County treasurer-tax collector. In 2006 he was elected to the Orange County Board of Supervisors. He was elected to the state Senate in 2015.
This e-mail has been sent by California State Senator John M. W. Moorlach, 37th District.
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