By R.J. Hernandez
February 5, 2011 (San Diego) – Assemblymember Marty Block (D-78th District) hosted a town hall meeting with about 50 constituents Thursday evening at Patrick Henry High School in San Carlos Thursday night to discuss Governor Brown's proposed 2011-2012 budget and hear views of local residents.
Assemblymember Block discussed the basic tenets of the proposed budget. Next, Corinne Wilson, lead research and policy analyst from the nonprofit Center for Policy Initiatives, gave a Powerpoint presentation covering state, federal and local revenue and expenditures as well as the budget's impact upon the state.
Questions were posed to the audience, such as:
- What do you think of the new Governor’s ideas to close the $25 billion deficit?
- Would you make the same cuts?
- Are a mix of spending cuts and revenue increases the best way to solve the problem?
- How does delaying tax cuts, making reductions in state services, and the proposal to realign county and state program responsibility affect your life?
- Do you like that Governor Brown is giving voters the choice to vote for increasing revenues? What does it mean when $1.4 billion is cut from higher education?
Cuts proposed by the Governor include, but are not limited to, cuts to higher education from the University of California, California State University, and Community Colleges ($1.4 billion); elimination of hundreds of local redevelopment agencies ($1.7 billion); changes to the Healthy Families program ($135 million); welfare ($1.5 billion); child care ($750 million); and more.
Citizens voiced concerns over several issues, such as how elimination of monies dedicated to redevelopment could negatively impact affordable housing, the impact of a sharp decrease in monies to higher education, and how a decrease in health and human services support could harm developmentally disabled citizens.
Ideas proposed included tax reforms for corporations and closing associated loopholes, discontinuing collection of state disability per paycheck if funds are being pooled and not used, discontinuing sales of state property for very low prices.
Generally, the consensus of the audience was to make cuts that would not impact higher education, low income housing and Healthy Families/Child Care.
The two hour meeting had a diverse turnout which largely included parents and senior citizens, with a few college students. Although some were clearly stressed over the issues, the tone remained respectable to everyone present and to all viewpoints. There was a clear line of communication between the Assemblyman and the constituency, which is being facilitated through feedback forms and audio/video that will be presented to the Assembly retreat happening shortly where concerns, ideas and solutions will be discussed from district representatives throughout the state.
When asked if the town hall turned out as he had hoped, Assemblymember Block said with enthusiasm that the turnout was “better than expected.” His constituents clearly responded favorably to the event and to Assemblyman's efforts to listen, so that all voices and viewpoints will be heard at the state capitol.
Assemblymember Block's office can be reached online at http://asmdc.org/members/a78/
For more information on the Governor’s budget proposal visit: http://www.ebudget.ca.gov.