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The Week in Politics
This week Sacramento was abuzz about education. University of California President Janet Napolitano and Governor Jerry Brown are the middle of a funding debate for the school system.
Napolitano wants to raise tuition 5% every year for five years if the state doesn’t appropriate more funding. Brown has offered 4% more funding if the tuition rates remain locked for the fall.
On Tuesday, Napolitano said that the admission rates of California students would stay stagnant. Meanwhile, the UC system would continue to accept out of state students at an increased level, as planned.
“As someone who has pushed for increased state funding for higher education, I am frustrated over UC’s latest attempt to use students as bargaining chips by agreeing to admit 2,000 new out of state students, but threatening to limit the enrollment of new California students,” Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) said. “Proposing a cap on out of state students at two UC campuses, while increasing out of state enrollment overall, does not solve the problem. UC’s job is to educate California students, not waitlist them.”
“We should not allow California’s students to be held hostage in a budget negotiation – their future is just as important to the health of our economy as it is to them and their families,” Assembly Republican Leader Kristin Olsen (R-Modesto) said. “UC needs to knock off the cheap negotiating tactics and prioritize access for California students at all of its campuses. Assembly Republicans and Democrats have been working together to advocate for increased investment in UC that allows our higher education system to grow, while also demanding greater efficiencies.”
On Wednesday Assembly Republicans introduced a package of bills that they believe would improve California’s public school system. They released the bills in a white paper titled “Claim the Future: Strengthening the Middle Class.”
California is currently ranked 46 in the nation for education, and there are 8.9 Californians living in poverty, the paper says.
The Republicans say the bills would ensure a quality education for children of all neighborhoods, support the teaching profession by providing consistent feedback and support, help parents be participants in their child’s education and stop the state from raiding district coffers.
An executive summary of the bills can be found here.
The U.S. House of Representatives voted Tuesday to fund the Department of Homeland Security through the end of the year. After three months spent trying to use the necessary funding to block President Obama’s executive action on immigration, Speaker John Boehner allowed the House to vote on a “clean” bill, giving up on blocking the president’s immigration action.
Late last week the House passed a bill to extend funding through March 6. At the time, rumors circulated that Boehner had made a deal with Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), the minority leader in the House, to pass the clean bill. Tuesday’s vote seemed to validate those rumors, with all 182 Democrats present voting yes, and all but 75 republicans voting no, to fund DHS.
Rep. Paul Cook, who represents Yucaipa, voted no on the bill.
Also Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered a speech to a joint session of Congress. In his speech he discussed the ongoing negotiations regarding Iran’s nuclear program. He called on members of Congress to bear in mind that, “A bad deal is worse than no deal.” He feels that the deal being brokered is a bad deal.
“It was an honor to hear Prime Minister Netanyahu address the joint meeting of Congress this morning,” Cook said after the event. “The bond between Israel and the United States is vital. Both the U.S. and Israel face significant national security threats from the same enemies. As a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, I will continue to be an ardent advocate for Israel.
“The Prime Minister is absolutely right that a bad deal is worse than no deal. Until the current regime in Iran renounces terrorism and ends its threats against its neighbors, it can never be allowed to develop the technology that could be used for nuclear weapons. The United States must continue to stand with Israel and do all we can to prevent the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran.”