Restoring the American Dream in California

By Senator Jeff Stone
Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Also published at The Press-Enterprise

As someone who grew up in California, I have seen my home state go from a place where hard work and education made dreams come true to a place where high taxes, overregulation and lack of educational opportunities are keeping people down and driving jobs away. Helping restore the American Dream in California starts with working to make California affordable.

An average California home costs two and a half times the national average. Renters are also being squeezed since the average California rent is 50 percent more than the national average. The higher cost of buying or renting a home and other costs, like high taxes, makes it harder and harder for Californians to afford the Golden State. It shouldn’t come as a shock that in 2015 CNBC ranked California as the fifth most-expensive state to live in.

As opposed to more of the typical talk and no action in Sacramento, our state Senate should have the opportunity to vote on legislation that will help bring relief to Californians who need it most. But before moving to the Senate for a full vote, many bills working to make California affordable face the obstacle of needing to be passed out of a key committee this Friday. Three bills I authored are among those up for consideration and would help 1) college students, 2) senior citizens and 3) disabled and senior veterans.

First, students are worrying about rising costs and the impact student loans will have once they leave college. Even more worrying is that these increased costs disproportionately affect middle- and low-income families. The bill I introduced would provide relief for education expenses like payments for books, tuition and payments made on the principal of a qualified education loan.

Second, 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. I’ve introduced a bill that will provide important relief to seniors struggling to stay in their homes by capping the property tax assessment for all seniors over age 65 based on income.

Third, veterans have sacrificed so much for our country, and our state government can do more to help make their living situations more affordable. Legislation I put forward will provide important relief to senior and disabled veterans by capping property taxes on the primary residence of all honorably discharged veterans over the age of 65 and exempting the property tax of disabled veterans living in their primary residence.

This legislation and similar proposals introduced by my Senate Republican colleagues provide opportunities for hard-working families and help our seniors and veterans enjoy a better quality of life. Passing these bills not only works to make California affordable, but begins a needed conversation in the Capitol about further reforms. Californians deserve the continued promised of the American Dream.