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Assemblymember Bill Monning

bill_MonningSince passage of the state budget in early October, the governor vetoed $1 billion in line item vetoes— including the elimination of funding for Stage Three Childcare programs that serve mostly women who are transitioning from welfare to the workforce. What are you and the legislature doing about this?

The governor’s line item vetoes went counter to the bipartisan agreement achieved in the legislature. The vetoes cut funding to disabled students, HIV/AIDS patients, mental health programs for children, and Stage Three Childcare programs.

The loss of childcare will directly impact more than 260 families in Santa Cruz County where mostly single mothers will have no other choice but to leave paying jobs in order to take care of their children. Additionally, private childcare providers will lose business and California will forfeit federal dollars. 

I have joined my colleagues who are fighting to restore these lost childcare dollars. We are exploring short-term funding options until a longer-term solution can be found, and are strategizing how we can restore funding when the legislature re-convenes in January 2011.

Additionally, on Nov. 4, 2010, I joined other legislators on the steps of the State Capitol in a demonstration organized by the California Alternative Payment Program Association protesting the childcare cuts. I read the names of children who are threatened with the loss of childcare in the 27th Assembly District and offered my support for solutions.

What is being done to recognize November as Diabetes Prevention Awareness Month?

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that 24 million U.S. adults have diabetes, the majority of whom have type-2 diabetes, which can be caused by poor diet and lack of exercise. The diabetes rate in the United States is expected to double or triple by 2050 if nothing is done. The good news is that for many people, this disease is preventable.

As Chair of the Assembly Committee on Health, I am committed to promoting health education, good nutrition, and physical activity to reduce obesity that can lead to diabetes and other illnesses.

Recently, the Santa Cruz County School Food Alliance held a program promoting healthier lifestyles for children and I was pleased to be able to participate. The Alliance is working to link schools, local agriculture, food banks, teachers, students, school employees, and families with healthful food and nutrition alternatives. By working together, I believe we can make a real difference building healthy communities by reducing preventable diabetes. I applaud members of the Food School Alliance for their great work.

California recently received some federal funds for federal healthcare reform. How much has been awarded to the state and what will it be used for?

Since the passage of federal healthcare reform, California has received millions of dollars of federal grant money to help the state capitalize on new opportunities to expand healthcare coverage to uninsured families and to improve the health status of all Californians.

Recently, California has received the following federal grants:

•  $1 million to begin designing the health insurance exchange, the virtual marketplace which will provide healthcare coverage options to consumers and enable them to buy coverage under federal health reform.

•  $3.4 million aimed at strengthening state efforts to help consumers navigate the new healthcare system.

•  $85 million to community health centers, increasing access to health care for underserved patients by providing support to build new clinics and upgrade technology.

•  $3.6 million for obesity prevention

and wellness projects.

•  $27.7 million to improve and expand the primary care workforce to support comprehensive workforce planning and implementation strategies that best address local current and projected workforce shortages.

•  $5 million in health profession opportunity grants to provide low-income individuals with education, training and supportive services to prepare them to enter and advance in careers in the healthcare sector.

Some of the federal reforms have already gone into effect, including extending coverage of young adults (up to age 26) under a parent’s health plan and the guarantee of coverage for children up to age 19, even if the child has a pre-existing medical condition.

I look forward to playing an oversight and implementation role in the coming legislative session and to sharing some of our community’s pioneering efforts in school nutrition and education programs with my colleagues.

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