Photo by Helena Fu
State Senator Anthony Portantino delivered his annual ‘State of the State’ address to the South Pasadena City Council on December 20th. In his presentation, the senator discussed developments in state legislations during past year, especially those that pertained to the city. Portantino also reaffirmed his dedication to fighting the 710 completion, and to maintaining funding for education and public works.
The first item Portantino discussed was the future of anti-710 efforts. He has been an advocate against the freeway’s expansion since 1999.
“There is nobody, outside of a very small number of people in a couple of cities, that believe that the  project has a chance,” Portantino said. “It doesn’t. It’s dead, and I think that everybody should feel very proud of the collective effort that made that happen.”
Additionally, Portantino explained various funding bills that were introduced this year. These bills will alleviate some of the costs from the city’s public works projects; this is important because the city is expecting a deficit in the coming years, so any extra funds from the state will be helpful.
Portantino discussed the recently-passed SB-1 transportation act, which will provide funds to form a foundation for much-needed improvements and additions to transportation infrastructure. The act will distribute $54 billion in the next decade, split equally between state and local funds. He argued that these projects will prevent hefty costs from damage to infrastructure by encouraging preventative maintenance.
“For all of you out there who find SB-1 controversial, I’d like to tell people that the only time infrastructure is on the front page of the papers is when the ‘bride falls down’,” Portantino said.
An accompanying state constitutional amendment –– due for voting in June 2018 –– will prevent the transportation funds from being diverted to unintended purposes. The state was criticised when $25 billion from transportation funds were used to cover the shortfall from the Great Recession; this amendment will prevent such a case from occuring again. Portantino says that this ‘well-crafted’ bill and amendment will protect local control and local funding.
Portantino was the principal co-author of SB-5, which is pending approval; this bill will provide $4 billion towards public parks and watershed preservation. These funds can lessen the cost incurred by recent reservoir projects within the city and the development of the two new parks that are being planned.
He concluded his presentation by stating that his vote in the legislature, whether for or against, comes from his deep understanding of our local issues and concerns.
“I try to walk that line of looking at what we’re trying to do, and matching it with the best interests of our district, and oftentimes that means I have to say no,” Portantino said.