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NORWALK − Assemblymember Cristina Garcia called for both patience and support during an hour-long State of the State address hosted by the Norwalk and Artesia Chambers of Commerce last Friday at the Norwalk Arts & Sports Complex.
Before a crowd of city officials and business leaders, Garcia, who represents the 58th Assembly district, vowed her next two years in office will continue to echo the themes of political reform and economic recovery that pushed her to victory in 2012.
While Garcia, who is running unopposed this year, acknowledged positive job reports in her address, the Bell Gardens-native admitted that for many small businesses the recovery hasn’t trickled down yet.
“I’m married to the left on social issues, but I’m worried about the small businesses in my district,” said Garcia, who grew up with parents who owned several small businesses, but still struggled to pay the mortgage. “They had employees who relied on them and had us [kids] to take care of.”
As a result, Garcia says that’s why she was in favor of granting small businesses a year extension, delaying any impacts of the Affordable Care Act. Even given the health insurance requirement, 45 percent of district residents are eligible for either subsidized or free health care, according to Garcia.
“Some say the state legislature is in the business of just cuts, but we’re trying to stop that,” she said. “California has lost a lot of businesses and manufacturing, but we’ve got to get out of debt first before we can provide more business tax relief.”
Last fiscal year, state legislators put more than $2.1 billion into reserves.
“More than we’ve been able to do in seven years,” said Garcia, drawing applause from the audience. “Our reserves are expected to reach $5 billion by 2017.”
Governor Jerry Brown has proposed to set up a rainy day fund for the state and education using the future reserves. Garcia fully supports the plan, but hopes legislators will focus more on career training.
She pointed to the $250 million in the California Career Pathways Trust, which offers funds to local school districts, charter schools, and community college districts in the form of one-time competitive grants.
While Garcia earned a bachelor’s degree from Pomona College, a master’s degree from Claremont Graduate University, and is currently a doctoral candidate at the University of Southern California, the former math professor is aware that most students don’t take the same path.
“We’ve got to invest in those kids and use that grant money to help our communities,” she said.
Garcia shared most about her desire to increase transparency and end corruption in Sacramento.
“I ran as a reformer. I ran on the platform that we don’t have to be corrupt. It hasn’t made me a lot of friends,” said Garcia with a laugh. “But I have to be true to myself.”
This year, Garcia introduced the “Political Conduct, Ethics and Public Trust Acts of 2014,” a wide-ranging ethics bill package that seeks to reform Sacramento’s political structure and restore transparency to the fundraising process. So far, the eight ethics bills have passed each necessary committee in the legislature.
Recently, Garcia was named assistant whip to the Assembly Democratic Caucus in addition to her duties as co-chair of the Assembly Legislative Ethics Committee.
“This is only my second year, but I’m ambitious…I need you to invest in me,” she said. “Pick up the phone, let’s find solutions together. Attend events like this and have patience with me, I’m just starting.
“I’m committed to the 58th Assembly district. It’s strong, it’s resilient, and it deserves a piece of the pie. It’s about time.”
Published: July 17, 2014 – Volume 13 – Issue 14