Union, state, county health assessed

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

Union, state, county health assessedPictured: Assemblyman Vince Fong

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In the last week, leaders of federal, state and county government addressed their constituents in annual reports on the budget, economy and priorities, drawing mixed support influenced heavily by partisan demographics.

The week of updates began last Thursday with Gov. Jerry Brown giving his 16th and final address as the end of his fourth term in office draws near.

Brown has been lauded on both sides of the aisle for bringing our state budget from a historic $26-billion deficit to a $6-billion surplus.

But his critics continue to point out that increased state spending has come with steep hikes in taxes and fees.

“California has become more and more unaffordable every year. In fact, since Gov. Brown has been in office, taxes have gone up by $15 billion annually,” said Assembly-man Vince Fong.

“Hardworking California residents are continually being squeezed with more and more tax increases as they try to pay mortgages, rent, food, electricity and gasoline.”

Meanwhile, said Fong, housing prices continue to exclude too many buyers from the market, and traffic congestion is worsening while no new capacity has is being built to accommodate.

“California’s highest poverty rate is the worst in the nation.”

He said that the solutions to these critical issues come down to common sense and called on Sacramento to cease protecting the status quo on the backs of families, small businesses and the Central Valley residents who continue to struggle.

“As we begin a new legislative season, my focus will be on supporting and promoting legislation that helps everyday Californians earn more and keep more of what they earn,” said State Sen. Jean Fuller.

She said she is concerned about the California legislature’s ongoing battle with the federal government.

“We should get serious about addressing Califor-nia’s challenges. Now is the time to move forward with a plan that reduces taxes, supports small businesses and provides more retraining opportunities for the unemployed and underemployed.”

Brown has been called to task even by his own party for his two pet projects — twin water tunnels and high-speed rail — which continue to founder.

President Donald Trump’s State of the Union speech, delivered Tuesday, received a similarly partisan reception, with Kern County’s most high-profile Republican, presidential advisor and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, among those who expressed praise.

“The future in America is looking up. In President Trump’s first year, we’ve achieved lower unemployment, more take-home pay for the American people and a stronger economy. ISIS has been beaten back, the stock market is up and investment is streaming back into America,” said?McCarthy. “This is what America’s comeback looks like.”

He lauded Trump for his progress, “and this year we are redoubling our focus on solving problems.”

McCarthy predicted that this year would bring more high-wage jobs and infrastructure improvements to America.

“We will fight to create an immigration system that actually puts the needs of American citizens and our economy first, and we will continue to keep America safe.”

Fact-checking organizations have cautiously acknowledged many of these gains, though some have objected that some claims lack appropriate context.

Tensions continue between the controversial administration and critics who oppose Trump’s dismantling of immigration protections and other policies implemented in the previous administration.

Our state legislators added their praise for the federal address.

“Congress is going in the right direction,” said Fuller. “They reduced burdensome regulations on business and passed tax cuts that were focused on working families and job creators. As a result, the stock market is at record levels and the rate of unemployment continues to improve.”

Fong said he will continue to partner with the federal government to expand and rebuild California’s infrastructure. “We must build new water storage and highways to support a healthy and strong Central Valley economy.”

On Wednesday night in Bakersfueld, Kern County 2nd District Supervisor Zach Scrivner passed the gavel to incoming chair Mike Maggard, representing the 3rd District, who gave the State of the County address.

Story First Published: 2018-02-02