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Senator Ben Hueso Talks To The Local Community

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Posted: Friday, October 25, 2019 4:10 pm

It’s not everyday that you can meet your local senator, but on Monday, Oct. 21, Senator Ben Hueso, District 40, representing Imperial Beach, Chula Vista, National City and parts of city of San Diego and Imperial County, met with residents at the Imperial Beach Branch Library.

About 20 people attended the event where they had a chance to meet with Hueso, have coffee and hear some news.

“My job is to listen to what is important to you so I can go to Sacramento next year and represent you. I’m always working on solving problems in the community…I’m honored to represent you in Sacramento..I work hard to protect what we have and continue to work on schools, parks, libraries,” he explained.

Hueso made clear that education is a very important issue for him. He recalled when he got to the state in 2010, California was in a financial crisis and it was $45 billion in deficit, so the government had to cut essential services. After that period, the state tightened its belt and prioritized where the state funds went. He pointed out that there were no cuts for schools although the budget was not increased. “Education is essential to the future of the state,” he said.

Hueso did an overview of the year 2019 session which ended in mid September discussing laws signed in 2019 that will take effect in January 2020. One of them is SB 208 which he initiated to remove robocalls. Hueso also announced that the state is working on revamping the Department of Motor Vehicles, adding services and investing in facilities and employees.

One resident asked about SB 1216 which provides tax cuts to businesses that employ at risk youth. Another speaker thanked him for SB 56 which approved $5 million for a bridge barrier for the San Diego Coronado Bay Bridge. The law went into effect this October and tasked Caltrans to create and establish an advisory committee to assist in the section of a permanent suicide barrier.

Another speaker asked abut the sewage issue. Senate Bill 690 was authored by Hueso to reduce exposure to pathogens, limit beach closures, and focus on water quality issues in the Tijuana River Valley, and to prioritize those projects through studies funded by SB 507, another bill he authored in 2017. In conjunction with this bill Hueso requested a $15 million allocation to fund projects to tackle toxic transboundary flows in the valley. SB 690 encourages the state to use funds to prioritize projects that deal with water quality, flood control, trash and sediment.

Hueso said he has met with Mexican Federal administration leaders who work with the Mexican president. He explained that Mexico has a system that provides its residents water whether they can pay for it or not. Because many don’t pay their water bills, the government doesn’t have the money to fund projects. Hueso said that the Mexican government has allocated $5 million to replace pumps on the Tijuana side. “This is a solution it doesn’t solve the entire problem. I will continue to work with the federal government to create a California bi-national commission to focus on our border,” he said.

Hueso had introduced a bill to create a bi-national commission, but it was vetoed and the governor decided that before establishing a new bureaucracy he wanted to work with his office and the lieutenant governor to solve this issue.

A question was asked about changes in the education system and how some districts lag behind others. Hueso explained that California is very divided because there are more school districts than there are any other agencies. School districts have a wide range of spending per pupil from $14,000 to $8,000 per year in low income neighborhoods. “We’re trying to correct that without undoing school districts,” he said adding that because of the high cost of living in the state, we have to do more with less. “We have recently invested more in education but we are still lagging behind [in spending] per pupil,” he said.

He reminded the group that working together is essential. “People in the community working together… If everybody is united at the local level it is easier for me to go to Sacramento [and represent your needs.]” he said.

At the end of the Q &A, attendees took photos with Hueso. Yadira Solis, a community relations facilitator at Mar Vista High School attended the meeting and had a chance to ask some questions. “This is great for the senator to be here and make himself available,” she said.

Hueso became involved in politics when he became San Diego City Councilmember for the 8th district from 2006-2010. He was later elected council president. Hueso has served as commissioner for the California Coastal Commission. Before being elected senator in 2013 he was a member of the California State Assembly from 2010-2013.

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