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The Student News Site of California State University, Stanislaus

Signal

The Student News Site of California State University, Stanislaus

Signal

Third Government Night presents three issues

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Federal, state and local representatives gathered at California State University, Stanislaus March 20 for the third annual Turlock Government Night to address questions regarding regional public policy issues.
Congressman Jeff Denham (R-Turlock), Assemblymember Kristin Olsen (R-Modesto), Stanislaus County Supervisor Vito Chiesa and Turlock Mayor John Lazar discussed three main issues: education, water and unenployment.
“It’s a big deal for us to have you here tonight; it is symbolic of a lot of efforts we are making to be a partner with the city of Turlock, Stanislaus County and basically the whole larger regions,” university President Joseph Sheley said during his welcome speech addressing the guests of Government Night.
Education was a main topic of concern for the officials during the evening, as the audience was filled with students.
Congressman Denham expressed his desire to increase the amount of federal grant money for students in a system where a four-year degree now takes six years.
“I don’t believe in a one-size-fits-all system,” Denham said.
“We need to have more Pell Grants. Our Pell Grants from a national level have lagged behind, I believe, and done at a time when we have seen great cutbacks of our higher-education system.”
The congressman was not alone when it came to supporting the CSU.
“I’ll be fighting for it hard in the halls of the legislature,” said Olsen of a $95 million funding request, which would allow schools to increase enrollment.
This bill would defer the CSU system from turning away 20,000 fully eligible California students from being admitted.
Water was another issue discussed by officials during Government Night.
“The last time California saw a drought like this there were cities that had a 60 percent unemployment rate because of its impacts,” Denham said. “It drives down the economy of the entire region.”
Denham explained that the state’s water system was originally designed to serve 17 million people but now serves 40 million.
“We need water storage, and we need it now,” Denham said.
Lazar and Chiesa discussed the City of Turlock’s effort to establish a Surface Water Treatment Plant, which would provide the city with drinking water from the treated Tuolumne River.
The proposal for the Surface Water Treatment Plant is currently pending approval from the Turlock Irrigation District.
“We’re going to see continued challenges in the coming years, and while we need a short-term fix to transfer water, both the Senate and House, Democrats and Republicans, need to come together to work with local and state governments to build long-term solutions,” Denham said.
Later in the evening, unemployment  in California became a topic of discussion.
“We can not continue to have a poverty rate at 24 percent, an unemployment rate in the valley that hovers between 12 and 20 percent; that is unacceptable,” Olsen said.
Mayor Lazar expressed the community’s expanding efforts to lower the unemployment rate.
“It is my goal, and our counsel’s goal, to work with other partners to try and find opportunities to bring quality jobs to this region so you don’t have to leave your family to go elsewhere for jobs,” Lazar said.
Congressman Denham responded  to a question regarding businesses and Californians that leave to follow their careers into other states.
“Businesses are going to do what they have to in order to survive,” Denham said.
“That’s why we need to make sure that we make improvements to our laws, to our water system and infrastructure, to make California a more attractive place to do business.”
President Sheley closed his greeting to the guest speekers by addressing the developing relationship between the university and community.
“You can’t make a difference if you’re an island” Sheley said.
“Tonight we’re not an island. Tonight, you’re here.”

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Third Government Night presents three issues