Archive for the ‘Legislation’ Category

Rep. DeSaulnier introduces bill to increase taxes on public companies for excessive CEO pay

Wednesday, October 5th, 2016

Washington, D.C. – Today, Representatives Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11) and Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12), members of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, introduced legislation in response to the Mylan hearing at which the CEO acknowledged that salary for the position increased 600 percent in less than a decade, and other reports that companies like Wells Fargo pay its CEO nearly 500 times the rate of its average employee. The CEO Accountability and Responsibility Act (H.R. 6242) would increase corporate tax rates on publicly traded companies that exploit workers and pay CEOs astronomically high salaries

“America has a problem, as we see company after company come before Congress to apologize for bad behavior. One would ask, what has happened to our business culture?” asked DeSaulnier. “Too many executives at the top are incentivized to put profits before people by catering to shareholders and padding pockets on the back of consumers. Corporations should have a moral and social responsibility to workers, consumers, and American democracy. This bill sets the stage to stop fueling excessive income inequality.”

“It seems like every day we see a new story about another company taking outrageous steps to maximize their profits ­­– insane increases on lifesaving drugs to fund flights on private jets, sky-high salaries for CEOs who oversee severe and possibly criminal mishandling of consumer information,” said Watson Coleman. “If we’re serious about bringing back a thriving middle class, we need to lift up the companies who are investing in their workers at every level, not just lifting their leadership higher into the 1-percent. The companies responsible for recent CEO pay trends are wreaking havoc. It’s time we hold them accountable.”

On average, CEOs of the largest companies in the U.S. earn three times more than they did 20 years ago and at least 10 times more than 30 years ago. In fact, between 1978 and 2014, inflation-adjusted CEO pay increased by almost 1,000 percent, while the typical U.S. worker saw their pay increase by only 11 percent during that same period. Today, we see the pay disparity between the average American CEO and average worker is 303-to-1.

“Corporations that pay their top executives vast multiples of the typical worker’s wage should face higher taxes than corporations whose top pay is closer to the typical worker’s. The CEO Accountability and Responsibility Act is an important, and necessary step,” said Robert Reich, Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy, University of California at Berkeley and former U.S. Secretary of Labor.

The CEO Accountability and Responsibility Act would increase corporate tax rates on companies with larger than a 100-to-1 ratio of pay between CEOs and their average workers. At the same time the bill would reward companies whose CEO to worker ratio fell below that threshold, demonstrating that corporate social responsibility is an essential practice in American business.

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Governor signs Glazer’s “California Promise” bill, to increase four-year CSU graduations

Thursday, September 22nd, 2016

Sacramento, CA – Gov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday signed Senate Bill 412, Sen. Steve Glazer’s California Promise, a landmark bill that will pave a new pathway for more California State University students to graduate in four years.

To bolster CSU’s four-year graduation rate – one of the lowest in the nation at only 19 percent – SB 412 will require CSU campuses to offer enhanced academic advising and priority registration to students who commit to 30 credits per academic year. Low-income students, under-represented minorities, first-generation college students and community college transfers will get priority registration in California Promise programs, which will begin in the fall of 2017.

Senate Bill 412, which Sen. Glazer jointly authored with Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, marks an important turning point in California for CSU students, said Sen. Glazer, D-Orinda.

“We all know a college degree is a critical rung on the ladder of economic success,” Glazer said. “It is an especially proud day to know that we will now provide CSU students a better chance to do what most want to do, which is to graduate on time.

“California Promise students will now get what many students do not and that is a human touch,” Glazer added. “More academic advising will mean that California Promise students can chart a path with professional guidance and important follow up. It is unfortunate that there are more human touches in getting a piece of fruit to market than there is in student counseling on how to graduate in four years. We can turn that around with this new law.”

Ensuring that California students have all the tools to get through college in four years is a top priority of the Legislature, de León said.

“I congratulate Senator Glazer on the signing of SB 412,” de León said. “California continues to lead the way in implementing policies that support and incentivize students to graduate in four years. The state Senate will continue working to ensure all California students, regardless of race, income or ethnicity have access to higher education as it is the passport to economic success, not only for the student, but the state.”

Gov. Brown said that the legislation, “coupled with today’s action from the CSU trustees, creates conditions that allow students to timely graduate and avoid the burden of extra tuition.” The CSU Board of Trustees earlier Wednesday approved a new 2025 Graduation Initiative that aims to more than double the number of students graduating in four years to 40 percent.

Glazer added: “I applaud CSU for submitting newly enhanced goals of raising 4-year graduation rates to 40 percent by 2025. The California Promise, along with other innovative student success measures, will instill fresh momentum into improving four-year graduation rates.

“I look forward to being part of legislative oversight efforts to keep this program on track.”

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Rep. DeSaulnier announces bi-partisan bill to expand Pell Grants, eliminate taxes on non-tuition expenses

Wednesday, September 21st, 2016

Washington, DC – This past week, Congressman Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11) announced commonsense legislation to protect low income students from being taxed on using their Pell Grants for non-tuition goods and services. He is joined in introducing the Pell Grant Flexibility Act (H.R. 5764) by his Republican colleagues Representatives Lee Zeldin (NY-1), Thomas MacArthur (NJ-3), and Peter King (NY-2) as well as 16 leading education organizations including The Institute for College Access and Success (TICAS) and the National Education Association (NEA).

Federal Pell Grants can be used to cover both tuition and non-tuition expenses. However, when students use these funds for non-tuition expenses their Pell Grant is taxed, while strictly tuition costs are exempt. Each year approximately eight million students receive Pell Grant funding. A majority of these recipients have family incomes under $40,000 per year, and typically borrow higher amounts of student loans to cover the costs associated with higher education.
“When it comes to college affordability, paying tuition is not the only cost that worries students and families. Expenses like textbooks, off-campus housing, transportation, and child care account for roughly 60 to 80 percent of total cost of a higher education. We must allow students to use every Pell dollar toward focusing on their earning their degree,” said Congressman DeSaulnier

“The rising cost of higher education is a crushing burden to many families, but access to Pell grants offer substantial assistance. The ability to use Pell Grants for expenses other than tuition and to have access to those funds on a tax-free basis is vital. NEA applauds Rep. DeSaulnier for introducing the Pell Grant Flexibility Act,” said NEA Director of Government Relations, Mary Kusler.

“Pell Grants should not be treated as taxable income regardless of which qualified education expense they are used to cover. By eliminating the inconsistent tax treatment of Pell Grants, this bill will help to increase fairness, simplify the tax code, and improve coordination between Pell Grants and the American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC),” said TICAS President, Lauren Asher.

The complete list of organizational support includes: American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), American Council on Education (ACE), Association of American Universities (AAU) , Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU), Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), Hispanic Association of Colleges & Universities (HACU), Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP), National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU), National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA), National College Access Network (NCAN), National Education Association (NEA), National Urban League, Service Employees International Union (SEIU), The Institute for College Assess and Success (TICAS), United Negro College Fund (UNCF), Young Invincibles.

 

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Governor signs Assemblymember Frazier’s bill to create certainty for small businesses

Thursday, September 15th, 2016

Sacramento, CA On Wednesday, September 14, Governor Brown signed into law AB 326 by Assemblymember Jim Frazier (D – Oakley), which sets a 30-day deadline that the Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) must reimburse a collateral deposit by an employer in a Division of Labor Standards Enforcement prevailing wage dispute.

“I applaud the Governor for signing AB 326 to bring fairness to the prevailing wage dispute process,” said Frazier. “As a former general contractor, I know first-hand that tying up cash can place innocent employers in jeopardy of losing their business or creating financial hardship.”

Current law requires that in cases where a contractor has been accused of prevailing wage violations, the contractor must post a cash deposit with the DIR equivalent to the full amount of the assessment plus penalties. AB 326 would ensure that the contractor is reimbursed in a timely manner.

“We cannot thank Assemblymember Frazier enough for stepping up on this issue,” said Tom Holsman, CEO of the Associated General Contractors of California. “There have been instances when contractors have not received their cash deposits back for months, even though a settlement had been arrived at, or the contractor had been fully exonerated.”

AB 326 had the support of the Associated General Contractors of California and San Diego, Associated Builders & Contractors of California, Construction Employers’ Association, Southern California Contractors Association, and California Association of Specialty Contractors. This bill passed through the Legislature with widespread bipartisan support and will become effective on January 1, 2017.

Assemblymember Frazier represents the 11th Assembly District, which includes the communities of Antioch, Bethel Island, Birds Landing, Brentwood, Byron, Collinsville, Discovery Bay, Fairfield, Isleton, Knightsen, Locke, Oakley, Pittsburg (partial), Rio Vista, Suisun City, Travis AFB, Vacaville and Walnut Grove.

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DeSaulnier’s per mile driving fee idea receives $750,000 in federal funding for pilot program

Wednesday, August 31st, 2016

Washington, D.C – Today, Congressman Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11) announced that $750,000 in federal funds will be awarded to the California Department of Transportation under the Federal Highway Administration’s Surface Transportation System Funding Alternative Program (STSFA). These funds were awarded to further build upon the Mileage-Based Fee Pilot Program (SB 1077) that DeSaulnier established during his time in the California State Senate. This pilot program will explore alternative funding mechanisms necessary to advance the construction and maintenance of California’s roads, bridges and transit systems. This funding was authorized in the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, which was signed into law by President Obama on December 4, 2015.

“Given the inability of the Highway Trust Fund to sustain needed roadway and bridge repair across the country, states are leading the way in identifying innovative funding alternatives. I am pleased California was well positioned to take advantage of this federal funding opportunity as a result of SB 1077.  Our state will be at the forefront of finding innovative ways to improve safety and reduce congestion for Bay Area commuters,” said Congressman Mark DeSaulnier.

The FAST Act established the Surface Transportation System Funding Alternatives Program to provide grants to states or groups of states to demonstrate user-based alternative revenue mechanisms that utilize a user fee structure to maintain the long-term solvency of the Highway Trust Fund.

Earlier this year, Congressman DeSaulnier was a keynote speaker at the Mileage-Based User Fee Alliance’s Annual Conference, where he encouraged transportation leaders to adopt similar state policies to replace the losses in gas tax revenue.

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Frazier, Beall introduce bills to fund $7.4 billion transportation plan

Monday, August 29th, 2016

On Thursday, August 25, 2016, Assemblymember Jim Frazier (D – Oakley) and Senator Jim Beall (D – San Jose) introduced companion bills – ABX1 26 and SBX1 1 – in the 1st Extraordinary Session to address California’s transportation funding crisis. As mentioned in a previous article, the plan includes increases to the tax on gas by 17 cents per gallon and on diesel by 30 cents per gallon, as well as a $165 annual fee on electric vehicles.

“Over the past year, I’ve worked with my colleagues, local communities and industry experts to develop an all-inclusive plan that makes necessary improvements to our transportation system. These conversations resulted in ABX1 26,” stated Frazier. “The package that Senator Jim Beall and I put forth provides vital tools to ensure California remains economically competitive. By strengthening our trade corridors and accelerating the movement of goods, this proposal keeps business in California while simultaneously creating jobs through the advancement of crucial road maintenance and enhancement projects.”

 The joint proposal provides an additional $7.4 billion annually across California’s transportation system: highways, local streets, transit, bikes and pedestrians. The plan utilizes a portfolio approach in addressing a multitude of funding needs, ensuring that everyone benefiting from California’s transportation infrastructure contributes to its continual maintenance and improvement. Additionally, important systemic reforms are included to ensure transparency and accountability in the use of funds.

“Assemblymember Jim Frazier and I have met with scores of legislators and stakeholders to craft an equitable solution that calls for everyone who drives to pay their fair share toward repairing California’s crumbling roads, bridges and trade corridors,” said Senator Jim Beall, chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee. “Our plan includes bipartisan recommendations to increase efficiency and accountability to taxpayers.  By choosing to repair our transportation system now, we will have smoother and safer roads, generate jobs, and also save billions of dollars in future maintenance and construction costs.’’

The breakdown of new annual funding includes $2.9 billion for state highway maintenance, $2.5 billion for the upkeep of local streets and roads, $534 million to help regions restore cuts to the State Transportation Improvement Program, $516 million for transit capital projects and operations, $900 million to enhance goods movement, $80 million for active transportation projects and up to $150 million possible through Caltrans efficiencies for bicycle and pedestrian projects.

“This new proposal demonstrates real progress in the fight to secure needed transportation funding,” stated Bob Alvarado, Executive Officer of the Northern California Carpenters Regional Council. “Many in the labor community are already supportive of these efforts and look forward to helping secure the success of a funding package so we can put people to work.”

Asked if he and Beall had considered reallocating current spending to pay for their plan instead of the tax increases, Frazier responded with the following:

“In most circumstances, transportation funding has always come from a user-pay system. The General Fund is an unsteady and unpredictable source of revenue with regular fluctuations, resulting in constant funding and defunding of state-run programs. Therefore, this is not an ideal candidate for transportation projects, which can take years to plan and complete. Imagine the disappointment of developing a project only to have it cancelled last minute and without warning because state revenues are down and other programs were considered more important.”

“The proposal I laid out in ABX1-26 fixes the current transportation funding structure while still following the guiding principle of a user-pay system. This new plan utilizes a portfolio approach to diversify the collection of funds, ensuring that everyone benefiting from California’s transportation system is contributing to its maintenance and overall improvement. Additionally, the plan fixes the gas tax’s current structure, ending the instability and uncertainty of available revenues. It does this by resetting the revenue source to where it was before being altered in 2010. It then indexes it to keep pace with inflation so we can be confident that its buying power will remain strong into the future.”

The 1st Extraordinary Session was called by the Governor in June of 2015. The bills have until November 30th to be taken up for a vote before the session expires. To see the complete text of the bill, please click here.

Assemblymember Frazier represents the 11th Assembly District, which includes the communities of Antioch, Bethel Island, Birds Landing, Brentwood, Byron, Collinsville, Discovery Bay, Fairfield, Isleton, Knightsen, Locke, Oakley, Pittsburg (partial), Rio Vista, Suisun City, Travis AFB, Vacaville and Walnut Grove.

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Glazer’s “California Promise” bill to improve four-year graduation rates at CSU campuses

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2016

Bill, which offers priority registration and academic advising to students, passes key legislative hurdle

Sacramento, CA – The Assembly on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved Sen. Steve Glazer’s groundbreaking legislation to smooth the way for California State University students to graduate in four years.

Senate Bill 412, establishing the “California Promise,” proposes to boost CSU’s 4-year graduation rate which, at 18.6 percent, is 25 percent lower than the national average for comparable public universities. Some CSU campuses’ four-year graduation rates hover at or below 10 percent.

Glazer’s bill was jointly-authored with Senate President Pro Tem, Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles. It now awaits further action in the Senate.

“This legislation will allow CSU students to break through the logjam that has left too many students with graduation roadblocks and high debt,” said Glazer, D-Orinda, a former CSU Trustee.

Senator de Leon said: “Since 2015, the Senate has fought for access, affordability and completion for California students in higher education. SB 412 is an important piece of this agenda. I am proud to joint-author this bill, which will help California students, particularly those from low-income families, complete college in four years.”

Under the California Promise program, CSU students would be offered priority registration and academic advising as long as they commit to completing 30 semester units each year and meet any other guidelines set by individual campuses.

Low-income, underrepresented or first-generation college students who fulfill the requirements would be guaranteed admission into California Promise programs. Qualified community college transfer students would also be guaranteed slots in the California Promise.

CSU Trustees would be required to develop and implement a California Promise program at a minimum of eight CSU campuses and at 15 CSU campuses for qualifying transfer students beginning in the 2017-18 academic year. More campuses would be added in future years.

CSU students and their families pay up to $26,000 per year in tuition, books and living expenses for every extra year in college, according to the Campaign for College Opportunity.

“We know that our CSU leadership is committed to student success,” Glazer said. “The California Promise will add to the effort, giving students the tools and setting a pathway for better results.

“This program’s success will save students and their families hundreds of millions of dollars every year,” Glazer added. “It will free up seats for new students, save the state money and get better qualified students into the workforce sooner. It is projected that we will be one million degrees short in meeting industry demand in the next ten years. This program will help us meet that need.”

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Assembly candidate Miller opposes Frazier’s gas tax increase proposal

Thursday, August 18th, 2016

Dave Miller who is challenging incumbent Assemblyman Jim Frazier in his race for re-election in the 11th Assembly District, issued a statement opposing Frazier’s proposal for an increase in the gas tax.

Following is Miller’s statement:

There are two undisputed facts that everyone should know: California has the highest Gas Prices of any state that is not an island. There are a number of reasons for this and all of them originated in our legislature.

Gas and Diesel taxes hurt the working poor more than any other group.  The working poor are more likely to commute farther for work -that alone is enough of a burden, they have to drive more.  In addition to that, increasing the Diesel tax means that it costs more to deliver goods and services.  Businesses pass along the higher delivery cost to customers in the form of higher prices.  Which means our dollars don’t go as far as they used to.

Assemblyman Frazier, the chairman of the Transportation Committee, knows this.  He just doesn’t care.  He knows that the people that will be the most affected by this are too busy trying as hard as they can to eek out a living that they don’t have the time or money to pay attention.

Knowing that, yesterday Assemblyman Frazier joined with State Senator Jim Beall, according to the LA Times, to unveil their new gas tax plan.  Here are some highlights:

  • Additional 17 cent per gallon tax on gasoline.
  • Additional 30 cent per gallon tax on diesel.
  • $165 annual fee added to the registration fees for electric cars.

The creation of a new political bureaucracy – The Office of Transportation Inspector General. (I wonder how much of the new gas tax will have to be used to pay for that…)

Assemblyman Frazier is hoping that no one notices another key point of his tax plan.  It is designed to increase inflation annually thus triggering a higher tax on gasoline automatically.   Inflation is calculated by looking at the Consumer Price Index.  The more things cost – the higher inflation is.  So he is going to increase the costs of all goods and services by increasing the cost of fuel.  By tying his tax to inflation Assemblyman Frazier is taking his planned price increases for all goods and services -caused by his tax plan- and turning them into a self-fulfilling prophecy of ever increasing gas taxes and higher inflation.

This is not his first attempt to increase the tax on each gallon of gasoline. On January 6th of 2016 Assemblyman Frazier introduced AB-1591 which would have increased the tax on gasoline by 22.5 cents per gallon and 30 cents per gallon of diesel.  In addition to the new gas tax AB-1591 would have increased the cost of annual vehicle registration from $38 to $165 depending on your vehicle.  Like his current proposal AB-1591 would have also been tied to inflation and automatically increased annually.  AB-1591 died in committee.  But Assemblyman Frazier told the L.A. Times that he would try to push for a lame duck session to get his new bill passed.

The big issue with trying to force it though a lame duck session is that you may end up with enough legislators that lost their elections, or decided to retire, that might vote for something that their constituencies do not want since there is no political consequence.   What Assemblyman Frazier is doing here is putting politics before people.

As many of you know Jim has skipped out on 2 scheduled debates with me.  The most recent he had a fellow democrat try to come to his aide by saying that he was stuck in a committee hearing.  When the truth is that he had an hour and 45 minutes after the conclusion of his meeting to get just 35 miles.  Even if he hadn’t left the capitol for 30 minutes after his hearing AND got caught in traffic, and hit every red light, he still would have been able to make it to the debate.

So, I have issued a challenge, anytime, anywhere. I will debate Mr. Frazier anytime, anywhere. But, he is too scared to debate a serious contender that knows the Assemblyman’s record better than the Assemblyman himself does.

Frazier is seeking his third term in the Assembly. The 11th District includes all of Antioch. For more information about Miller, visit his website at www.electdavemiller.com. The election is on Tuesday, November 8.

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