Welcome to the July 2016 Edition of the Stone Sentinel.
This month we celebrate the 240th anniversary of America’s Declaration of Independence.
On July 4, 1776, 56 men from 13 colonies, with different backgrounds, different religions and different political ideologies, defied their King and declared Independence from Great Britain, mutually pledging their lives, fortunes and sacred honor to the cause of the founding of the United States of America.
All these years later, those Founding Fathers could not likely imagine what they set in motion during those sweltering July days in Philadelphia.
At the time of Independence, the entire population of what would become the United States was about 2.5 million people. That’s about the population of Riverside County today.
America’s largest city in 1776 was Philadelphia with about 40,000 residents, or just a little bit bigger than Wildomar these days.
In 1776, Boston had fewer residents than present day Blythe, and New York had fewer people than Desert Hot Springs.
I was honored to participate in several Patriotic events on the Fourth of July weekend including the wonderful parade in San Jacinto.
I was also honored to congratulate the people of Murrieta who, after a vote of residents, on July 1, 1991 incorporated as a city.
This month Murrieta celebrated the 25th anniversary of their decision to better control their own future by forming a city council and bringing government closer to the people.
As your State Senator, I am ever mindful of the Declaration of Independence, written so many years ago, which declared “…Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”
It is an honor to represent the 28th Senate District.
California is now the 6th largest economy in the world, behind only the United States, China, Japan, Germany and the United Kingdom.
Even though our state economy’s gross domestic product was $2.46 trillion, our local roads and bridges are crumbling, middle class families can’t afford to buy a home or send their kids to college, the most vulnerable Californian’s don’t have access to the healthcare services they need and our taxes are among the highest in the nation.
With the vast resources of one of the world’s greatest and largest economies, why can’t we fix our problems?
We don’t need to look much further than the State budget which failed to meet the priorities of hard working Californians. The budget - which spends a record $122.5 billion from the General Fund for the upcoming fiscal year -- is an increase of $6.9 billion from last year.
Even as the cost of State Government continues to skyrocket, Governor Brown is warning of dire days ahead for state revenue. His own administration is projecting an operating deficit of $4.1 billion in 2019’20, and that was before all of the additional spending legislative Democrats tacked on to this budget in recent days.
This budget paves the way for future deficit, and pays for new office buildings for State workers in Sacramento while roads and bridges across the State crumble. It hikes car registration and other fees on people who already dig deeper in their pockets than most Americans to pay their taxes.
While spending is going up, this budget also fails to make current debt reduction a high enough priority. California now has debts and obligations estimated at $330 billion. That’s over $8,000 for every man, woman and child in California.”
Watch Senator Stone’s budget response here:
Watch Senator Stone’s budget floor speech here:
With the Fourth of July approaching, Senator Stone gave a passionate speech on the Senate floor about individual liberty and the freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution.
California already has the most stringent gun-control laws in America. A slate of nearly a dozen gun-control bills passed by the legislature will do little or nothing to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and will only further burden law-abiding, responsible gun owners.
Watch Senator Stone’s floor speech here:
In June, Senator Jeff Stone condemned the failure of the Senate Appropriations Committee to pass three key tax bills aimed at helping senior citizens, veterans and college students.
By refusing to let the bills out of the Appropriations Committee, Senate Democrats led by Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Long Beach), chose to expand welfare services for undocumented immigrants instead of helping senior citizens stay in their homes; assisting college students avoid massive student loan debt; and providing aid to wounded and disabled veterans.
The three bills, all authored by Senator Stone, which were effectively killed by Senator Lara and other Democrats on the Committee included:
SB1104 -- This legislation would have frozen the property taxes for all honorably discharged veterans while removing the property tax for all honorably discharged 100 percent disabled veterans. According to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, homeless veterans are younger on average than the total veteran population. Approximately 9% are between the ages of 18 and 30, and 41% are between the ages of 31 and 50. On top of that, about 1.4 million other veterans are considered at risk of homelessness.
SB1126 -- This bill would have frozen the property taxes for qualified senior citizens who meet certain income restrictions. Many senior citizens are on a very fixed income, with most of that coming from Social Security and pensions. With the rising costs of health care and prescription drugs, and the economic uncertainty taking place across the country, California’s senior citizens find themselves in a very challenging time. There is nothing more important than the pride and freedom that comes with home ownership. For seniors at the lower end of the income spectrum, the ability to stay in their own home is becoming harder and harder, unless California finds ways to make the American Dream more affordable.
SB1148 -- This measure would have conformed state income tax law to federal law to allow for a deduction for tuition and qualified education expenses. Education costs in California and across the nation have skyrocketed in recent years. According to the Public Policy institute of California, in-state tuition at both the UC and CSU has more than tripled over the past 20 years. They note that “From 2004 to 2013, the average tuition at UC and CSU more than doubled from around $4,000 to more than $9,000.” These increases are a source of concern for Californians who fear that they may be priced out of postsecondary education or forced to incur more and more debt, in order to complete their degrees. Even more worrying is that these increased costs disproportionately affect middle and low-income families.
All three of these bills passed out of the Senate Governance and Finance Committee with unanimous bipartisan support. However when push came to shove, the liberal Democrats chose to pursue a path of higher taxes, more regulation, and disastrous increases to state welfare that will only serve to punish the middle class and hold them down, cutting off their path and especially the path of those at the lowest level of the economic strata from moving forward and being uplifted. It makes zero sense that the state will commit to $6 billion dollars in increasing the minimum wage through legislative shortcuts.
“I’m clearly disappointed in the Appropriations Committee for failing to stand up for students, seniors and veterans and instead choosing to spend billions of dollars on a job-killing minimum wage increase and more welfare benefits for those in our country illegally,” said Senator Stone.
As California’s dairy farms leave the state for greener pastures, and other agriculture businesses suffer under increasingly burdensome regulations, Senator Stone opposed legislation that will make it even harder for California farmers to compete in the global market.
Watch his support here:
June is the month where hundreds of bills are debated in committee hearings.
As the Vice-Chairman of both the Natural Resources and Labor and Industrial Relations Committees, and a member of the Budget and Fiscal Review and Public Safety Committees, Senator Stone continues to stand up for the People of California, not the special interest groups that are a powerful influence in Sacramento.
The Senator recently spoke out for more protection for children who are victims of human trafficking.
Senator Stone supported SCA 14 which will create a more open and transparent process in the Legislature.
The Ralph M. Brown Act was passed by the Legislature in 1953 and requires city councils, county boards of supervisors and government commissions to post agendas and ordinances under consideration well in advance of their meetings. This allows members of those elected bodies, and the public, adequate opportunity to study agenda items and citizens the chance to attend those meetings and offer public comment.
“When I arrived in Sacramento I was surprised to find the same level of transparency we require of local governments was not required in the Legislature,” said Senator Stone. “All too often in Sacramento last minute meetings are held, sometimes in the dead of night, that produce bills that are quickly passed with little chance for Legislative scrutiny or public comment.”
SCA 14 changes that.
SCA 14 simply requires that a bill be in print for at least 72 hours before it can be voted on. It guarantees that members of the Legislature and the public will get to see the actual language of any measure well in advance of a final vote.
It also requires the live streaming of legislative meetings on the Internet and the recording of public meetings held outside the Capitol.
“I am confident that, if given the opportunity, the people of California will support a more open and transparent State Legislature,” Senator Stone said.
SCA 14 now goes to the State Assembly for consideration.
Watch the video here:
Sacramento is always a busy place, especially in June as many bills are heard and debated. Still, the Senator always makes time for visitors from the 28th District who come to the State Capitol.
If you plan to be in the Sacramento area and would like to visit, call the Senator’s office at (916) 651-4028.
Please remember that the Legislature is on recess in July, but will return in August.
Here are just a few of the events that took place in Sacramento recently:
Senator Stone was honored to stand and speak in support of the California State Military Reserve.
Senator Stone welcomed Brigadier General Frank Emanuel and Colonel Darrin Bender of the California State Military Reserve to his Sacramento office.
After honoring the California State Military Reserve on the floor of the Senate, Senator Stone went outside to visit with these wonderful men and women on the steps of the State Capitol.
Senator Stone stood in solidarity with his colleagues in the California State Senate to condemn the violence in Orlando and offer their condolences to the friends, family and love ones who died or were injured in the senseless tragedy on June 12th.
Senator Stone welcomed Communications Director John Hunneman of his Southwest District office to the Senate Floor. Mr. Hunneman spent a week in Sacramento lending a hand in the State Capitol office.
During the week Senator Stone spends his days in Sacramento representing the hard-working people of the 28th District.
On weekends he enjoys returning home to Riverside County, meeting with constituents, attending events and listening to the needs and concerns of residents.
Here are just a few of the places Senator Stone has traveled and some of the people he has met in recent weeks.
Senator Stone attended Leadership Coachella Valley’s graduation ceremonies. Leadership Coachella Valley is a program designed to identify, motivate and develop future community leaders. Congratulations to all the graduates.
Senator Stone attended the Greater Coachella Valley Chamber of Commerce and was honored to present the Small Business Award to Dr. Frank Curry and Desert Urgent Care.
A fundraiser hosted by the Senator at his Temecula home raised $50,000 for the Veterans Memorial being built in Murrieta.
A non-profit group is partnering with the City Of Murrieta to build a memorial to those who have served in all of our nation’s wars.
Senator Stone met with business leaders Andre Lecompte of Harley Davidson, Terry Gilmore of Paradise Chevrolet, Alice Sullivan, CEO of the Temecula Valley Chamber of Commerce and Jerry Konchar of Pechanga Resort & Casino in his Murrieta office to discuss efforts to improve business in California.
Senator Stone was the guest speaker at the Republican Party of Riverside County meeting held at the Historic Mission Inn in Riverside.
The Senator enjoyed meeting with the Desert Association of Realtors in Palm Desert.
The Senator addressed the Lincoln Club of the Coachella Valley.
During July the Senate is on summer recess and Senator Stone looks forward to spending even more time traveling and visiting with constituents in the 28th District
Each month members of Team Stone travel the 28th Senate District visiting businesses, attending events and meeting people across Riverside County. Here are just a few of the places the Senator’s staff visited to recently:
Team Stone joined with the Temecula Valley Chamber of Commerce to welcome Alliance Urgent Care on Temecula Parkway to the community. District Representative Darrell Connerton presented a certificate on behalf of Senator Stone.
Team Stone was honored to recognize Veronica Mondragon who was named the Riverside County Teacher of the Year by the Riverside County Office of Education. Veronica teaches 6th grade language arts/social studies and AVID elective courses for 6th/8th grade students at Canyon Lake Middle School in the Lake Elsinore Unified School District. Senior District Representative Maryann Edwards presented a certificate to this deserving educator who will also be receiving a Senate Resolution from Senator Stone
Team Stone took part in the Murrieta Chamber of Commerce ribbon cutting ceremony for Maples & Associates. District Director Glenn Miller and District Representatives Debbie Herrera and Darrell Connerton welcomed the company on behalf of Senator Stone.
Team Stone was happy to help the Temecula Valley Chamber of Commerce welcome Karl Strauss Brewing Company to Temecula.
Team Stone helped honor the Murrieta Mesa High School Rams baseball team who won the CIF-SS Division 1 Championship. It is the first CIF championship for the school which opened in 2009. Communications Director John Hunneman presented certificates to the team on behalf of Senator Stone.
Team Stone took part in the Murrieta Chamber of Commerce ribbon cutting ceremony for Temecula Valley Music Awards. District Representative Debbie Herrera presented a certificate on behalf of Senator Stone.
Team Stone took part in the opening of the Riverside County Probation Department Day Center in Indio. District Director Glenn Miller congratulated Riverside County Chief Probation Director Mark Hake on behalf of Senator Stone.
Team Stone was honored to take part in the dedication ceremony for a new Patriotic mural at James Madison Elementary School in Indio. The mural, by Palm Springs artist Keith Blum, is a great addition to the campus. District Director Glenn Miller represented Senator Stone at the ceremony.
Team Stone attended the Temecula Valley Chamber of Commerce ribbon cutting ceremony for Executive Plumbing & Drain. Senior District Representative Maryann Edwards presented a certificate on behalf of Senator Stone.