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Assembly Speaker Karen Bass announces 2009 policy priorities

OW Staff | 4/29/2009, 5 p.m.

Sacramento, CA -- California Speaker Karen Bass' top priorities are to create new jobs and turn around California's economy. Speaker Bass is fast tracking legislation that will maximize federal stimulus funding to aid Californians who have been impacted by the national economic crisis. The Speaker is also leading an effort to create green collar jobs, reform the criminal justice system, enact foster care reform and improve transportation and the environment.

State Budget. With the state budget still of concern, Assembly program and policy efforts that foster California's economic recovery will play a prominent role in our 2009 deliberations, particularly our ability to optimize federal dollars. Additionally, we will look at ways to revamp the existing vote thresholds for the budget.

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). Under the $787B economic stimulus plan, California will receive billions. Some programs require immediate statutory responses to draw down dollars while others are still under development. The Assembly Budget Committee started a detailed review of ARRA's provisions and other committees will follow suit in the coming weeks. Committees will analyze programs and funding levels, seek opportunities to leverage existing resources, and pursue additional funding options. Committee findings will enable the Assembly to engage in direct White House discussions about California's needs.

Transportation. Address the federal economic stimulus and the federal reauthorization of transportation dollars. The Assembly is already working with the Congress (Senator Boxer and others) on positioning California to play a formidable role in federal discussions.

Federal Funding: Energy Efficiency (AB 262) and Transportation (AB 672). Develop program priorities for the federal energy efficiency and transportation funding.

Water. Resolve three water topics in concert with the Senate: respond to the Governor's drought proclamation, address the multitude of pressing Delta governance/stewardship questions, and produce a water bond.

Climate Change
. Work to expand the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) to 33% by the year 2020 and increase the energy efficiency of our public and private buildings. These efforts don't cost the state General Fund money; they reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions, and create good paying jobs. Our actions will also assist the feds in developing their climate change program.

Workforce Development
. Workforce training is a vital component of our economic recovery. Developing programs in the green collar jobs arena is a pivotal piece of this effort.

Green Jobs Council (AB 1394). Expand the authority of the Green Collar Jobs Council to include the ability to accept funding and make grants from the receipt of federal economic stimulus dollars.

Healthcare. Reforming the nation's healthcare system is at the top of the President's agenda. California attempted to undertake this endeavor, although we were unsuccessful. Nevertheless, we stand poised to take another look at this issue and work with the White House on their efforts.

Federal Hospital Waiver Reauthorization (AB 342). Develop the terms and conditions for the federal hospital financing waiver that is negotiated every 5 years - the state's existing terms and conditions expire in 2010 and new legislation is needed to make the necessary program changes.