Monday, February 25, 2013

Assembly members address Solano business, community leaders

From page A3 | February 23, 2013 | Leave Comment

FAIRFIELD — Solano County’s representatives in the state Assembly are getting ready to work on a state budget without facing financial projections awash in red ink, a change from recent years. 

“We are in different times, perhaps more hopeful times,” Assemblywoman Mariko Yamada said at Friday’s Solano Economic Development Corp. monthly breakfast.

Yamada, D-Davis, Assemblyman Jim Frazier, D-Oakley, and Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, D-Concord, each represent a different part of Solano County. They addressed a crowd of local business and civic leaders at the Hilton Garden Inn.

California voters stopped the state’s economic bleeding by passing the Proposition 30 tax increases in November 2012, Yamada said. But, even though the situation looks more hopeful, the Legislature must act with restraint, she said.

“We cannot squander this moment in California’s history,” Yamada said.

Bonilla said that Gov. Jerry Brown would probably like the Legislature to rubber-stamp the proposed budget he has submitted. The Legislature won’t do that, she said. But she did say the Legislature will pass a budget by the June 15 deadline, something that has been a rarity in recent years.

“It’s very important we hear from you in the business community,” said Bonilla, who described the budget as a “tax dollar investment.”

The state in recent years cut about $1 billion from the University of California system and from the California State University system, she said. Now the state can begin filling back in the hole it had to dig, she said.

Bonilla also talked about high school education changes that she would like to see. Students can be bored in classes that fail to reflect the 21st century. Students need to do more than learn how to fill in bubbles on a test, she said.

“Those aren’t the people you want to hire,” Bonilla said. “Last time I looked, that wasn’t on a job description . . .”

Schools need to engage students and educate them to think and solve problems. Students might learn in the context of health care, engineering and the arts, Bonilla said. She also stressed the importance of early childhood education.

Frazier said he has dealt with state regulations as a general contractor. He too has “felt the pain,” he told his audience. He talked about updating the California Environmental Quality Act, a topic that Brown has also mentioned.

An audience member during the question-and-answer session said California overregulates small businesses and called the state Environmental Protection Agency a “rogue agency” that needs to be called to account. None of the Assembly members directly addressed his comments.

Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or Follow him on Twitter at