Community and Government Relations Report
In a stunning development, the state legislature passed a budget bill by the mandated June 15 deadline, only to have the governor veto it less than 24 hours later. This was the first time since 1933 that a budget passed with a simple majority vote rather than a two-thirds vote. The budget passed by the legislature was based mostly on cuts to state and local services, plus a Â¼% increase in the sales tax and an increase of $12 in vehicle license fees. The budget would have closed a $9.6 billion deficit. However the Governor rejected the legislation and sent it back to the legislature, saying in part, "the budget I have received is not a balanced solution. It continues big deficits for years to come and adds billions of dollars of new debt. It also contains legally questionable maneuvers, costly borrowing and unrealistic savings. Finally, it is not financeable and therefore will not allow us to meet our obligations as they occur." Watch the governor's full budget message on YouTube.
Cal Grants were essentially untouched from the original January and May revised budget proposals. However, with the veto, the budget returns to the legislature and we enter uncharted waters. I will continue to monitor this for any developments on the Cal Grants.
Proposed Political Maps Released
Like Brigadoon appearing every one hundred years, the once-a-decade redistricting process brings much anticipation and excitement for those who are aware of its impending arrival. The first draft of the California Citizens Redistricting Commission's legislative district maps was released on June 10, and state and national political pundits were soon abuzz over what the changes will mean for the political process.
U.S. Congressional Districts
The most immediate impact for Saint Mary's is that it looks like Moraga and the entire Lamorinda area will be placed in Rep. George Miller's U.S. congressional district. Miller's district, which now stretches from Richmond to Pittsburg in the east and Vacaville in the north, will change dramatically. Most significant for Miller is the likelihood that Richmond, an anchor and bulwark for his political family for more than 65 years, will be in U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee's district. However, since most of Contra Costa County has been trending Democratic, it is doubtful that Miller will face any serious competition in the new district.
In an exclusive interview, Miller said he is "pleased at the possible opportunity to represent Saint Mary's in Congress." Noting that both his father and grandfather were graduates of Saint Mary's, he added, "It would be an honor to represent Saint Mary's."
The district of Rep. John Garamendi, who has represented the Moraga area, will be shifted north to Napa and Solano County and will include his actual home in Walnut Grove. The only portion of Contra Costa he will represent will be the communities of Hercules, Pinole and Crockett.
Rep. Jerry McNerney, who represents the Danville and San Ramon area, will lose the southern portion of Contra Costa County but will pick up communities like Antioch, Oakley and Brentwood as well as much of San Joaquin County.
The new maps take Lamorinda out of Assembly member Nancy Skinner's 14th Assembly district and place it within Assembly member Joan Buchanan's 15th district. Skinner will continue to represent the western portion of Contra Costa County, including Richmond. Much of north-central Contra Costa County will be in Rep. Susan Bonilla's district. Contra Costa is even represented in a small portion of a fourth Assembly district, as Oakley and Discovery Bay are included in a Solano and Yolo County Assembly district. This could be a positive development because if four members of the Assembly speak with one voice on certain countywide issues, it may increase Contra Costa's clout in Sacramento.
In the remapping, the commissioners utilized a technique called "nesting," meaning they simply placed two whole Assembly districts in each state Senate district. Currently, Moraga is represented in the state Senate by Mark DeSaulnier, and the new district keeps him as our senator. DeSaulnier's state Senate district will be made of Bonilla's 11th district and Buchanan 15th district.
The following chart may help illustrate the changes in store for Moraga and Saint Mary's College.
U.S. House of Representatives: John Garamendi
State Assembly: Nancy Skinner
State Senate: Mark DeSaulnier
U.S. House of Representatives: George Miller
State Assembly: Joan Buchanan
State Senate: Mark DeSaulnier
The Citizens Commission will hold a second round of hearings before formally adopting the final maps on August 15. The proposed state maps may be viewed on the commission's web page.
One of the lesser known aspects of my position is to assist the College in securing necessary municipal entitlements for important building projects. The relocation of the baseball field, installation of lights for the intramural field, and siting of new cellular towers are a few projects which have received support from my office. As we go forward with the new recreation facilities and other building projects, I will be fully engaged in securing the necessary entitlements on behalf of the College.
The New Rheem Theatre will celebrate its first anniversary with special showings of "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" and "The Majestic" on Saturday, June 25. For more information on the Rheem Theatre and events surrounding the celebration, please visit the Rheem Theatre's website.
The Moraga Park Foundation will once again host a concert series throughout the summer. The free concerts will be held at the Commons (at Moraga Way and Moraga Road) every Thursday until September 24. Concerts start at 6:30 p.m. For details and a list of the performers, please visit the foundation website.