Last weekend, we all read a blog post with some negative commentary about my policies and Assembly Bill 13, a piece of legislation I am carrying. My friend Chip Dykes took the liberty of sending me a piece he submitted to SD Rostra as a response of his own. Apparently he submitted the piece two days ago. In the interest of getting it in front of the readers, I decided to post it myself.
Chavez’s AB 13: Good for Veterans and California
By Chip Dykes
This weekend, a blog post appeared on SD Rostra, The Flash Report and a few other publications criticizing Assembly Bill 13, a piece of legislation authored by Oceanside’s Assemblymember Rocky Chávez. Usually, I do not give credence to these kinds of inflammatory posts, but Richard Rider’s “GOP Assemblyman Rocky Chávez pushing new subsidies – disappointing” struck a nerve with me.
Never mind that the post is based off of a 129-character Tweet or the fact that Mr. Rider does not take the time to adequately explain AB 13, his piece is filled with incorrect information. I feel the need to respond, not just as a veteran, but as a community activist who is genuinely concerned about the future of California.
AB 13 would let recently discharged members of our military pay in-state tuition at any California Community College, California State University, or University of California. It would waive the residency requirement for one year, until the veteran student can become an official California resident. I am a strong supporter of AB 13, not just because it benefits our men and women in uniform, but because it makes good economic sense.
Despite Mr. Rider’s assertions, the current federal Post-9/11 GI Bill actually only covers the costs of in-state tuition. It shouldn’t come as any surprise that there is a large monetary difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition – $5,000 at a Community College, over $11,000 at a California State University and over $22,000 at a University of California. Since their GI bill will only pay for in-state tuition, a veteran who was not stationed in California prior to being discharged will have to pay $22,000 out of their own pocket if they want to attend a UC. This goes well above and beyond the $1,500 monthly housing allowance Mr. Rider refers to in his piece.
Currently, 19 other states, like Texas and our neighbor Arizona, offer newly discharged military members’ in-state tuition. This puts California at a competitive disadvantage, as most veterans will likely take their expertise and training elsewhere. These men and women are hardworking and highly skilled, exactly the type of workers and students we need in our state.
It is important to note this issue is being discussed on a national level. A bipartisan team of Congressmen recently introduced HR 357, otherwise known as the GI Bill Tuition Fairness Act. This bill would prevent public colleges and universities from receiving any veterans’ education benefits unless they charge the same rate of tuition and fees for nonresident veterans as they do for in-state students. If California does not move in the direction of AB 13, we could lose a large amount federal funding.
AB 13 is not another state subsidy, it is far from that. It is estimated that each veteran attending school full time using their GI Bill will bring a minimum of $20,000 per year of federal money to California. This is money that will be spent in our state, stimulating our economy.
I am proud to support AB 13; it is a great piece of legislation and a great first-step for our freshman Assemblymember.