Community and Government Report, August 2010
Legislation Affects Student Aid
In addition to dealing with our nation's health care and insurance, the health care act passed earlier this year includes provisions dealing with student aid. Beginning July 1, private companies no longer offer federal student loans. According to the Wall Street Journal, all federal student loans must now be funded directly by the Department of Education through the Direct Loan Program. Previously, private lenders could offer federal loans through the Federal Family Education Loan Program, which paid private lenders subsidies for offering federal loans. Other provisions taking effect include a drop in interest rates from 8.5 percent to 7.9 percent for some applicants and an increase in the Federal Pell Grant award to $5,550 for the 2010-2011 academic year from $5,350 for the 2009-2010 school year.
Northern California Candidates Dominate the Field
For the first time in recent memory, both parties' nominees for governor, lieutenant governor and both of the state's U.S. Senate seats are from northern California. Additionally, the top two candidates for superintendent of public instruction, a nonpartisan race, are from the north. Not since 1958 have both parties' gubernatorial nominees been from northern California. The implications of this development for our region cannot be overstated. Whoever is elected governor and U.S. senator will undoubtedly have a much better understanding of the concerns we share in our region, such as Bay Area traffic, Spare the Air days and our chronic water shortages.
State Budget Still Up in the Air
While the deadline for the 2010-11 state budget came and went, discussions in Sacramento continue. As noted in earlier reports, it appears that the Cal Grant program will not be targeted in this round of negotiations. Even though there has been little movement on the budget, legislators have been encouraged to stay close to home and have their bags packed in case a deal is reached and they need to return to Sacramento for a vote. We continue to monitor this very important issue as the negotiations move forward.
Summer is typically a time for barbecues, family picnics and vacations. But it is also the launching point for the fall elections. Since statewide and legislative partisan nominees were selected in the state primary in June, the window is now open for local offices that will be up for election in November as well as for the top state races. It is during this period that would-be candidates "pull papers" and qualify for the ballot. The filing period for local offices lasts four weeks and closes on August 6. Local offices in Contra Costa County include the Moraga Town Council, most school boards and most special districts, such as BART, the Central Contra Costa Sanitary District, EBMUD and the East Bay Regional Park District. As the 2010 election season unfolds across the country, a significant trend has emerged. More citizens are seeking public office than at any time in several decades. Will this national trend continue at the local level in Contra Costa County? We'll know for certain in mid-August when filing closes and we know who the new candidates are.
Moraga council members Ken Chew and Dave Trotter have indicated that they will seek another term and have pulled the necessary nomination papers. Both were elected to their first term four years ago.
Mobile District Office
State Senator Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, whose district includes Moraga, will hold his mobile district office on campus on Saturday, August 14. This is a drop-in format; no appointment is necessary. If you have any concerns about state government or need constituent help, you can speak with the senator directly. The mobile office will be in rooms 140 and 145 of Filippi Academic Hall from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.