Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Enviro, Immigration and Federalism Policies Collide...oh my!/Pete Peterson

In an interesting combination of several issues, the Department of Homeland Security has announced that it received the necessary environmental waivers to push through its plans to finish the 670-mile border fence. It involved Congressional approval of a package of more than 30 waivers.

Possible environmental concerns regarding the fence include obstruction of migratory paths of creatures ranging from butterflies to a type of wildcat called an ocelot. The waivers involve around 10 miles of construction in the Otay Mountain region, east of San Diego.


L.A. Clinic Offers Care for Mayas/Karla Saia

Due in large part to tenacious outreach efforts, Los Angeles’ Clinica Romero is serving a growing Maya immigrant population, a group which has traditionally been relatively alienated from Western and institutionalized health care.

For the last eight years Idalia Xuncax, herself a Maya, has grown the clinic’s Maya clientele from a handful to approximately 700, and in doing so has brought preventive and routine care to a group leery of doctors. Further, she has learned to manage care for these immigrants – generally from Guatemala – in terms of other cultural and historical healing practices the community employs.

The clinic is receives funding from private donors, County, State and Federal Funds. As a result of the work by Ms. Xuncax and her colleagues, the Federal Government has agreed to fund the clinic’s healthcare research into Mayas in Los Angeles.


Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Proposed Gas Tax May Drive Prices Higher/ Claudia Paredes

AB2558 is a piece of legislation that is being introduced by Assemblyman Mike Feuer and supported by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority that would effect drivers in Lost Angeles County. Motorists would pay a fee of up to 3% of the price of gas (which translates into an extra 9 cents per gallon) or an additional fee of $90 on their vehicle registrtation that would all go towards fighting global warming. This registration fee would be higher for cars, trucks and SUVS in the hopes to discourage drivers from using these vehicles. The funding gained from this fee would be used for improvements to mass transit and programs aimed to relieve traffic congestion.

Opponents of this bill say that this is exploiting public sympathies to increase funding for a public transportation programs that already exist. They also point to the fact that gas is already taxed enough.

With the current budget deficit, funding for transportation and other local concerns must look towards new sources. Though the decision to put this bill on the ballot remains in the air, environmentalists argue that it is a local action to the problem of climate change that the federal government is not adequately responding to.


Monday, March 31, 2008

Budget and Immigration Issues Collide/ Jackie Cubas

As Republican lawmakers have proposed a reduction of benefits for illegal immigrants to save money, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger says it’s a “big mistake” to blame illegal immigrants for the state's $8 billion budget gap.

This week Assembly Republicans promoted almost two dozen bills they think will reduce the "negative impact" that illegal immigrants have on the state budget and border security. The proposals range from requiring individuals to show proof of citizenship when receiving state-funded benefits to repealing a law enabling undocumented students to pay in-state college tuition.

While Assembly Republicans like Ted Gaines, R-Roseville, claim “There's a cost associated with illegal immigration whether we're in a deficit mode or not;” Democrats assert otherwise. “The fact of the matter is, immigrants have a positive impact on the economy and the budget, and they're essential to California's prosperity,” said Sen. Gil Cedillo, D-Los Angeles. Legislative Democrats have vowed to block the GOP legislative package and accused Republicans of using illegal immigrants as scapegoats.

Citing a Federation for American Immigration Reform study released in 2004, Assembly Republicans said illegal immigrants cost the state $9 billion annually. The group estimated that California spends an estimated $7.7 billion alone on education for undocumented students. This estimate was disputed by Dowell Myers, a University of Southern California demographer, who said it is difficult to quantify the full economic impact of immigrants in California. He asserts it is hard to differentiate between legal and illegal workers and that immigrants provide an economic benefit by filling labor shortages in various occupations.


Friday, March 28, 2008

Governor's inconsistencies may overshadow his accomplishments/ Julia Gonzales

Has the self-proclaimed “great political negotiator,” California’s Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger known for his ability to strike an acceptable deal regarding policy most divisive issues, compromised his principles in the process? That’s the very question that many political pundits and policy makers are pondering. Will Governor Schwarzenegger’s legacy be affected by blurring the lines between being principled and overly “diplomatic” on policy? Here are the facts: While the Governor campaigned on the ills of special interest money, he later :“ became the biggest fundraiser in state history.” Moreover, while he promised budget deficit spending, vis-à-vis: “cutting up state credit cards,” he later “borrowed billions.” Similarly, while he promised “open government,” but then “let secret corporate donors pay for his travels abroad.”

Which begs an important question: are the Governor’s policy reversals politically motivated and—thus an inevitable bi-product of life as a policy maker in a highly polarized state legislature? Or does the Governor’s policy reversals suggest a more benign approach namely—that the core principles of a political novice at best--will naturally shift as he navigates the often times complicated and politically charged polarized landscape. To that end, will this “shifting nature” which will inevitably leave the Governor with for better or worse--has left him with “a record of self-contradiction and a reputation among California's polarized constituencies as a leader whose bold pronouncements may quickly be forgotten.” At the end of the day, perhaps the larger issue is not at all about the “legacy” question rather—the real issue lies with the people of California—and their anxiety and uncertainty in the Governor’s stance on the state’s most pressing issues—issues that may potentially have a strong bearing on their overall quality of life.